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cats &

V o l u m e 1 1 – 2 0 1 2 Aust $9.95

inc GST

Vets & Pets Visiting the Vet Feeding your kitten hairballs

Tips On

walking your cat boarding ... and more

Top Cats

cats

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a cat boat in amsterdam // people and their cats // cat welFare // book reViews and a quick quiz


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cats &

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contents VINK PUBLISHING ABN 3107 478 5676 38–40 Fisher Street East Brisbane Q 4169 Postal: PO Box 8369 Woolloongabba Q 4102 Australia Cover Photo Wendy Mitchell www.wendymitchellphotos.com Publisher Michael Vink michael@vinkpub.com Editor Jane Campbell Proofreader Karen Belik Graphic Design Wendy Deng Richard Locke Advertising Georgina Chapman georgina@vinkpub.com Ph: (07) 3334 8007 All Advertising and Editorial PO Box 8369 Woolloongabba Q 4102 Ph: (07) 3334 8000 Fax: (07) 3391 5118 All material appearing in “Kittens & Cats Annual” is subject to copyright laws. Reproduction of articles in part or thereof is not permitted without prior permission of the publishers. The opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those held by the publisher or staff. Any written material may be submitted, but no responsibility will be accepted for the return of solicited or unsolicited material. Photographs must have a return name and address written on the flip side, and must be accompanied by a stamped, self addressed envelope. Although every care is taken, no responsibility is accepted by the publisher nor the staff of “Kittens & Cats”, for loss or damage of any material submitted for publication. The Publisher reserves the right to reject any advertisement, booked or otherwise, on sighting of material supplied.

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From the editor

Vets and cat welfare

4 8 16 19 24 31 33

Visits to the vet Responsible cat ownership Hairballs We’re pregnant – what about our cat? De Poezenboot (The Cat Boat) The importance of desexing a cat Feeding your kitten

My cat: feline friends

10 22 59 79 81 85

A cat’s life: My girl Jack Surviving acute necrotising pancreatitis Herbert the sea cat Heart to heart Puss – an epileptic pet Profiling people and their pets

find out about

14 26 40 42

Cats and holidays Families and pets Walking your cat Boarding your cat

62 65 76

Travelling with cats The value of ceremony Siberian success story

behaVioural issues

27 54 66 74

Sense-ational vets Play therapy Cat on a wire Super sense me

hoMes fit for a king cat

36 49 71

Designer cats! The Cats’ House Keeping cats enclosed

top cats

46 68

Showing cats Cats on show

wait, there’s More!

67 73 75 88 89 91 92

Kat Kartoons Wendy Mitchell Photography Feline sounds Test your emergency IQ Book reviews Purr-fect products Breeders and Services Directory


from the editor The articles in this magazine will no doubt reinforce the things you already know about kittens and cats, as well as give the opportunity to learn more – and to see some very cute and, occasionally, rather sad images of our furry friends. Some of the things we look at include where to buy or obtain a potential pet: breeders, welfare agencies or pet shops? We also profile people who have visited these places so that they could add a new member to their family. What do you do when you bring your kitten or cat home? They don’t always behave the way you hoped they might! Animal behaviourists from both Australia and the US look at some of the ways you can ‘train’ your cat, as well as play with them, so that they are able to happily fit in with your family. Some of the major issues of cat ownership are also addressed: desexing, feeding, vaccinations and microchipping etc. Less common topics examined include how to handle cats if you or your partner is pregnant. Toxoplasma is certainly a new subject for me. I can’t remember it even being discussed when I was pregnant (and yes, we did have a cat that we found as a stray). Two owners

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have also contributed articles about the very distressing diseases of acute necrotising pancreatitis and feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Other practical issues are also covered, such as what to do with your pet when you want to go on holidays. Do you want to take your cat with you, or perhaps you want to leave them in the care of others? It can be stressful for both you and your pet when you go away, so we take a look at some of the options available. And then, of course, there is that awful topic of death. What do you do when your pet passes away? Victoria Spence and Katrina Warren offer some empathetic and heartfelt advice on the subject. Seeing how some cats live can be a real eye opener! Two of the articles in this magazine – ‘The Cats’ House’ and ‘Keeping Cats Enclosed’ show how the owners have built entire houses or backyards that specifically cater for their pets. One other pet owner hasn’t gone quite this far, however, Akemi has designed pet furniture that – not surprisingly – is simply beautiful. The other extreme to some of these fabulous cat homes and the love that surrounds them is that of homeless and

unwanted cats. However, we do have some good news there with ‘The Cat Boat in Amsterdam’ – what a great story! This magazine gives you the chance to read about different breeds, to see how cat shows operate, to see cats in all of their glory and sometimes in illness or as a consequence of neglect. We can even laugh about cats through Bob Seal’s cartoons, as well as test our emergency IQ. Thanks to those people and organisations who contributed to this magazine and thanks to you, the readers, who support and care for kittens and cats. They are (or can be!) terrific company and add enormous value to our lives.

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visits to By Melissa Catt BVSc MACVSc (feline)

theVet

these days, it’s not uncommon for cats to live for as long as 20 or so years of age , averaging 15-16 years old.

There are many reasons for this longevity: better diet, more cats being kept as indoor companions and improved parasite control, to name a few. However, a major factor is that veterinary care has advanced enormously over the past few years. A generation or two ago, cats usually only went to the vet once or twice during their lifetime, but it is increasingly common for people to treat their cats as a valued and loved member of the household, and this includes providing better health care. Visits to the vet can be broadly divided into three main categories: n illness n injury n routine care. Illnesses can be as diverse as itchy skin to acute collapse, and injuries can have an equally wide range, from a small cut on the skin to massive multiple fractures and internal injuries as a result of a major trauma. As vets, we are trained to deal with a huge variety of situations, and it has been said that one veterinarian is a GP, dentist, psychiatrist, soft tissue surgeon, orthopaedic surgeon, dermatologist, neurologist, urologist . . . all rolled into one, and sometimes even a counsellor for the owners! Usually the first time we meet a cat is when they come for their first check up and vaccination as a new kitten. I love

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these visits, as it is a great opportunity to set the owner and cat along the right track with regards to nutrition, behaviour, flea and worm control, microchip information, general advice on pet insurance, and good medical care – not to mention getting to have a good cuddle and/or play with a kitten! There is a lot of information available about looking after your pets and sometimes it can be conflicting and overwhelming, so it is

‘F3 vaccination’ in Australia and come as one injection. There are a number of other available vaccinations that may be appropriate to give in certain individual circumstances. The Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) vaccination, for example, is often recommended for both cats that have outside access and for cats living in a cattery. The deadly disease caused by FPV is very rarely seen these days, due to the success of the vaccination – it confers

“it is important to establish a good long-term relationship with a veterinary professional that you trust . . .” important to establish a good long-term relationship with a veterinary professional that you trust, much like you would with your own doctor or dentist. Vaccinations One area that has a reasonable amount of confusion (as with human medicine) is the issue of vaccinations, but there have been a number of international expert committees over the past few years that have provided guidelines to follow. As a general rule, all cats should be vaccinated with the ‘core’ vaccinations, consisting of Panleukopaenia Virus (FPV), Feline Herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1) and Feline Calicivirus (FCV). These latter two viruses are important causes of ‘cat flu’. These three vaccines, together, are known as the

almost total immunity with a single injection, which is the aim for all vaccinations. The immunity against FCV and FHV-1 is less clear-cut, and it is important to realise that the protection afforded by the FCV and FHV-1 vaccines will not provide the same efficacy of immunity as seen with the FPV vaccines. The vaccinations against these two ‘flu’ viruses help prevent severe disease, but it is still possible to see mild to moderate disease in the vaccinated cat. However, the good news is that we rarely see the terrible and life-threatening versions of cat flu that were not uncommon before these vaccinations became available. When to Vaccinate? The timing of vaccinations, particularly kitten vaccinations, is also often a matter


Pets aren’t as tough as they think, so don’t give fleas a biting chance.

of confusion, both by owners and breeders. As a bit of background, when kittens suckle from their mum, they receive antibodies against viral diseases the mum has had exposure to. These antibodies (MDA, or Maternally Derived Antibodies) are important to ensure the kitten has some immunity while it is still very young and vulnerable, but MDA significantly interferes with the ability of the kitten to respond appropriately to the core vaccines. The level of MDA varies significantly among litters, and the levels may wane at an early age or, alternatively, there could be interference with the vaccination up until the kitten is greater than 12 weeks of age. We therefore make vaccination recommendations based on the assumption of all kittens potentially not being able to respond properly until 12 weeks or older. Kittens should be vaccinated at approximately six- to eight-weeks old, have their second injection at 12 weeks,

just two F3 vaccinations given three to four weeks apart is appropriate. The booster vaccination generally needs to be given within approximately two months of the first one in order to act as a true booster, otherwise the body doesn’t have enough ‘memory’ cells for long term immunity to occur. Once all the kitten shots have been given, the next vaccination is given a year later. Subsequently, the vaccinations are assessed at the yearly check up with your vet, and tailored to suit your circumstances. Desexing Desexing is the other major reason for a kitten to visit the vet. In females, this is commonly referred to as a ‘spay’, and involves surgically removing the uterus and ovaries. In males, we call it castration, as both the testicles are removed. Cats tend to recover very quickly and uneventfully from this procedure. It can be done from as young as eight weeks of age (routinely done at this age at shelters, to ensure all kittens that leave to go to a new

“. . . but cats can be quite good at hiding signs of being unwell, so you should always seek veterinary advice at the first signs of illness.” and the final booster three- to four-weeks later. If the kitten misses out on its first vaccination, and is 12 weeks or older when it gets its first vaccine (or is an adult) then

home have been neutered already), but is often done a bit older. We use approximately two kilograms of bodyweight as a guide, and will often

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I wouldn’t have any other job!

combine the desexing procedure with the timing of the last vaccination at four months. We strongly recommend desexing before the kitten reaches sexual maturity, but this can be tricky to predict. Some breeds, for example Burmese, can come into heat as young as three months old! Desexing not only helps prevent behavioural issues such as urine spraying, roaming and aggression, but also leads to greatly reduced incidence of certain diseases as adults, for example mammary cancer. With so many stray and unwanted kittens constantly looking for a home, there is also a responsibility for all caring cat owners not to add to this burden. MicrocHipping At these first few visits, we also discuss many other topics, including worming, flea control, the importance of a good diet, behaviour, pet insurance, and microchips and their registration. In NSW, it is a legal requirement to have all kittens microchipped by six months of age or prior to changing ownership – whichever comes first. The microchip is ONLY a 10- to 15-digit number (found with a scanner), and no other information is directly accessed. The cat must also be registered with the local council. Once registered, the cat’s and owner’s information is available online (only accessible by authorised users, for privacy reasons). If a stray is brought in and a microchip number is found, we then look up the owner’s contact details online and

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can then reunite the lost cat with their owner quickly, but only once registration has been activated. We have had many instances of happy reunions due to a microchip, including a cat found on the other side of Sydney five months after going missing! HealtH cHecks Annual health checks are very important so your cat can be screened for issues you may be unaware of. Even the most diligent and loving owners rarely look at their cats’ teeth for example, and dental disease is common in our domestic animals. If there is significant dental disease, it is really important to have this dealt with, as infection based in the mouth can potentially go via the bloodstream to other organs (such as the kidneys and heart) and cause serious disease elsewhere. Apart from this, dental disease causes pain and discomfort in its own right; it is not uncommon for owners to be amazed at how much happier their cat is after having dental work done, when they didn’t realise there was any problem in the first place! At the annual visit, we will also weigh the cat and check this against previous recorded weights to ensure there are no unexpected increases or decreases, listen to the heart, feel in the abdomen and check other issues as appropriate. Recommendations for testing and/or treatment can then be made if anything is

found, and usually the earlier a diagnosis is arrived at, the better the outcome. As cats get older, regular health checks become even more important. There are specific disease conditions that older cats can get more commonly, such as kidney or thyroid disease, diabetes, arthritis . . . . Many of these conditions are treatable and some are not, but in the vast majority of cases we can make a significant difference to your cat’s quality (and quantity!) of life. Illnesses in cats vary hugely and affect many different organ systems. Some things are very obvious, such as hair loss or vomiting, but cats can be quite good at hiding signs of being unwell, so you should always seek veterinary advice at the first signs of illness. Sometimes the reason a cat is presented to us is because ‘he is just not himself’. This is where all our training and experience comes into play, and I feel like a detective trying to find all the clues in order to arrive at the right conclusion. These days, we have many different testing options available to aid us in reaching a diagnosis, including blood and urine tests, x-rays (radiographs), ultrasound, endoscopy and even surgery. Our treatment options are also sophisticated and can include having the cat on a drip (intravenous fluids), blood transfusions, chemotherapy for some types of cancer, and various other types of medications. Many of these tests and treatments can


Because they’re not as tough as they think, they need the most complete all-in-one protection.

be done at your usual vet, but sometimes it is necessary to get a referral to a specialist (just as with human conditions). There are a lot of veterinary referral centres these days, often doubling up as emergency and critical care hospitals overnight and on weekends. Specialists in veterinary medicine are like those in human medicine in that they don’t see run-of-the-mill cases, only ones that have been sent from the usual vet. They include surgeons, medical specialists, ophthalmologists, specialists in ultrasound and x-rays, neurologists, and behavioural specialists. Obviously, the most common surgeries performed at veterinary clinics and hospitals are desexing operations, but other surgical procedures are also done. Lancing an abscess, stitching a cut and removing teeth are a daily occurrence. More involved surgeries such as removing an ingested foreign body (for example a piece of bath toy, a cord from a blind, sewing thread or a pebble – all of which I have removed from cats’ intestines over the years!), fixing a broken leg and even amputation of a limb or tail are less common. As with people, some of these are day procedures while in other cases the cat will need to stay in hospital for a week or so to recover. Cats are very attached to their homes and owners so we do like to send them home as soon as practicable, as we feel that they are more likely to recover more quickly and smoothly.

A tyPiCAl dAy A typical day at work for me will involve a few routine check ups, including vaccinations, weight and kidney checks, and maybe a blood glucose curve on a diabetic cat; a desexing or two; some blood and urine tests; a couple of dentals; and maybe an x-ray, an ultrasound or an exploratory surgery. No day is ever predictable and no two days are the same. My day is spent with cats and their owners, and I am surrounded by other vets and nurses who are as passionate about their work as I am. I wouldn’t have any other job!

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Melissa Catt graduated from Sydney University in 1990 and worked in small animal practice in Australia and the UK before starting Paddington Cat Hospital with her husband Randolph Baral in 1997. She has two children, Elizabeth and Amelia, and three cats, Pushkin (17 years old and senile!), Jake (with three legs) and Peg (the uncomplicated one!). Paddington Cat Hospital 210 Oxford St Paddington NSW 2021 www.catvet.com.au

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Responsible

Cat ownership Dr Jade Norris, RSPCA Australia

if you’re looking for a new cat or kitten, please check your local Rspca or other reputable animal rescue group first. there are many wonderful cats and kittens looking for new homes . Acquiring A cAt or kitten If you do visit the RSPCA and you can’t find the right cat for you, or have your heart set on a specific breed of cat, you’ll need to find a good responsible breeder. It’s important to visit the kitten in the place it was born and meet its mum (and dad too, if he’s around). This is the only reliable way to check that the parent cats and the kittens are housed in good conditions and well cared for. It also gives you an opportunity to ask the breeder questions about the health and care of the kittens. A good breeder will ask you questions to make sure this is the right kitten for you and that you’re able to care for it properly. Desexing The RSPCA practises early-age desexing from the age of eight weeks, when the surgery is simple and recovery is rapid. If your kitten was not desexed prior to sale, they should be desexed before they are able to produce any unintended litters of kittens. There is no benefit in letting females have one litter before they are desexed. Microchipping AnD registrAtion It’s very important to register and microchip your pet cat. In some states you are legally required to have your pet microchipped. Even if you are not legally required to microchip your pet it’s really important to do so. Should your pet go missing you are far more likely to be

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reunited if they are microchipped. Also be sure to keep the owner contact details up to date on the microchip database register. VeterinAry cAre Talk to your vet about desexing, health care including vaccinations and protection against worms and fleas, and general care including diet. Your vet can also assist with microchipping and registration. These are all important parts of

Diet Feed a high-quality premium commercial food appropriate for your cat’s life stage (eg adult, kitten etc) and offer some natural foods occasionally for variety. Natural foods include fresh human-grade raw meat and raw meaty bones. Raw food offered to cats should always be fresh. Always choose humangrade raw meat and raw meaty bones because pet meat/pet mince/pet rolls/pet

“Should your pet go missing you are far more likely to be reunited if they are microchipped.” being a responsible cat owner and will ensure your new best friend stays healthy and happy. cAt contAinMent Cats can live happily indoors. Where cats are contained, owners need to take active steps to ensure that adequate exercise and environmental enrichment are available. Access to an escape-proof outdoor enclosure (non-electrified) can greatly increase the opportunity for activity and stimulation for contained cats. Contained cats have a longer life expectancy. Being contained within the owner’s property reduces the risk of injury from car accidents and cat fights (this also reduces the risk of catching diseases associated with cat fighting).

meat and bone products can contain preservatives that can be detrimental to the cat’s health, for example, sulphite preservative induced thiamine deficiency, which can be acute and fatal. It is important to provide some moist foods in the diet regularly as these have been associated with greater urinary tract health, for example, wet canned food. Human-grade raw meaty bones provide several important health benefits such as helping to keep teeth and gums healthy. Suitable raw meaty bones include raw chicken necks, chicken wings, chicken drumsticks and lamb shanks. Too many raw bones may lead to constipation. Generally one to two raw meaty bones may be provided per week with a few days in


between each serving. The bone must be large enough so that the cat cannot fit the whole bone in its mouth or swallow it whole. Always supervise cats when they eat raw bones. Never feed cooked bones as these may splinter and cause internal damage or become an intestinal obstruction. Please check with your vet that raw bones are suitable for your particular cat. (Some cats with misshapen

night. Ideally, they should be offered food at least three or four times per day. Eating smaller frequent meals has been associated with greater urinary tract health. Please ensure clean, fresh water is available at all times. Do not feed the following: onions, garlic, chocolate, coffee or caffeine products, bread dough, avocado, grapes, raisins, sultanas, currants, nuts including

“Contained [indoor] cats have a longer life expectancy.” jaws or dental disease may have difficulty chewing on raw bones.) For growing kittens, avoid feeding too much raw meat off the bone. This is important to help avoid certain nutritional deficiencies during growth. Provide cats with access to grass, but do avoid chemically treated grass and toxic plants. Cats do occasionally like to eat grass – a potential source of vegetable matter and micronutrients. However, be aware that large amounts of certain types of ‘cat grass’ can cause hypervitaminosis D, a condition that involves an abnormally high level of calcium in the blood. This can lead to calcification of soft tissues, including the kidneys, which in turn can lead to kidney failure and other problems. Adult cats tend to prefer to eat several smaller meals throughout the day and

macadamia nuts, fruit stones, fruit seeds, corncobs, tomatoes, mushrooms, the one type of fish constantly, cooked bones, small pieces of raw bone or fatty trimmings. BeNefits of owNiNg cats – physical aND meNtal BeNefits Research has shown that, in general, pet owners: n are healthier and happier than non-pet owners n have lower blood pressure and cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease n make fewer visits to the doctor and use fewer medications n are generally less depressed, feel less lonely and are able to cope with grief and loss better than non-pet owners n have a more positive outlook on life and report less loneliness, restlessness

and boredom. For children, it has been shown that growing up with pets during infancy helps to strengthen the immune system and reduces the risk of allergies linked to asthma. Children who have pets are also less likely to miss days of school. RSPCA Australia encourages prospective cat owners to consider adopting from the RSPCA (or other reputable animal rescue organisations). The RSPCA provides shelter to thousands of animals every year that are in need of a good home.

For further information please contact your local RSPCA shelter, or go to the RSPCA website: www.rspca.org.au

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a cat’s life

My Girl Jack By Nina Lis Coughlan

Walking past a pet shop can be a dangerous thing! Before you know it, you could be coming home with more than you intended .

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“Hello. Regrettably, Tom, Jack or Nina are not able to answer the phone right now – please leave a message.” This is the outgoing message I put on my landline after the break-in – an event that still leaves me feeling a little vulnerable as I was living on my own. Nice, strong, protective names, I figure. Of non-existing people. Thursday evening at Birkenhead Point I head for the supermarket for my upcoming birthday barbecue. Single, but ready to party. When passing the petstore window this grey bundle jumps out, Garfield-like, to the front of the cage. The other eight kittens remain unperturbed – playing around or huddled asleep on a piece of bright pink fleece. Six shopping bags later, the same thing happens upon my return. Okay. Nothing wrong with a little cuddle. I pluck the white and grey fluff ball off the wire prison wall. Immediately four paws clutch onto my right shoulder, and there’s a confident and happy purring in my ear. Magic vibrations: ‘Cat-notising’ (as opposed to hypnotising) or ‘Human whispering’? I am being ridiculous. “Back you go to the other kittens, have a nice life.” I still hear the purring and feel the paws on my shoulder as I drive home to Balmain. Unpacking the groceries I wonder who will obtain that little darling. Around 8.30pm I

get restless – late-night shopping. If I dash across again and the same happens, then it’ll be A Sign . . . I do dash across and the same fluff ball jumps up towards the front of the cage. My heart skips a beat with joy, and I silently name him Jack the Tom Cat. As I receive instructions on how to feed my new companion, Little One has climbed onto a shelf and grabbed a ball

the gum tree in front of my window only to forget this is how she got on the roof. I, in a nightie at 2am on a ladder, am a common sight. Whilst I drag my sleep-deprived self through the day, Jack snoozes contently in the sock drawer. Then it’s constant grooming. Or exploring. Or wanting food. Or playing. Preferably chasing crunched paper balls up and down the corridor before hiding

“Immediately four paws clutch onto my right shoulder, and there’s a confident and happy purring in my ear.” with a bell from the free-flying budgie. I grab the dry and wet food, gently shove cat and ball into the box as the pet-shop assistant calls out, “Ah, yes, it’s a tabby and it’s a girl”. Oh. Never mind. Jack it is. Jack Miss Pink Nose. Somehow she gets out of the box and ends up under the accelerator. Fortunately, we narrowly escape a serious accident on the Iron Cove Bridge. At home she immediately inspects every room and every corner before determinedly clawing up the curtains and, in a totally carefree manner, balancing on the top rod. She does have a thing about heights. In the first months she frequently climbs up

them in my shoes. Showers are good too. Yes, Jack loves water. She either jumps under the sprinkle of water or sits in the sink trying to catch the dripping water. This fascinates her, endlessly. Unless someone visits. With zero timidity my super-clean, white-grey little girl immediately determines the most comfortable lap and thus nails my friends to the couch. Especially men. “How cute,” they croon. “My cat is a tart,” I sigh. I love her dearly. She is a really nice person. Cat!? She follows me around, and comes home when I call out the window. She may have been a dog in one of her past nine lives . . . I have been told she needs to be desexed. Three appointments with the vet

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have to be cancelled due to Jack and me U-turning halfway to the surgery. How can I let them rip out my cat’s reproductive organs?! Then again, I hear about too many kittens in this world and what happens to them so, with a heavy heart, I let Jack have her operation. Following the surgery I curl myself in foetal position around my baby, guilt-ridden, for many hours – surrounded by three bar heaters. Until I realise that I am the one with the problem as she has long forgiven me. But it is established – if either of us is not feeling well, the other one comes to the party and snuggles up. She crescents herself around my head when I have a migraine or cat-shiatsus my sore tummy. Due to an overseas trip I am not there for her when she needs nursing back to life when someone crazily and cruelly kicks her lovely little face when she was patrolling the front of my house. I am still eternally grateful to my caring cat-sitting friend. To this day Jack is wary if she sees someone wearing heavy boots.

frantically flapping cicada, half a wriggling lizard or even a little field mouse. Thanks a lot. The problem arises when I meet John. A loud “What the . . . “ is the exclamation upon my first home-cooked dinner on our fourth date. On the chair in front of his plate sits, of course, Jack with her natural snow-white bib. Like always. Just for company, as she does not like ‘people food’ (yet). However, she doesn’t sit there for long because John – unaccustomed to pets – rudely shoves her off. I make one thing perfectly clear: Jack and I come as a double pack. John woos me and he has to woo Jack. Before I know it he has fallen in love with my cat! I hardly get a cuddle from either anymore! Jack sleeps on his side, John watches the news with Jack, John slips her treats . . . “What the . . .!” I am almost jealous. But Jack brings out the best in John, as she makes this giant gentle. Their bond grows stronger and stronger. When he wants me to move into his pet-free unit it is clear that we will share

“When I am uptight, she calms me down. When I am frustrated, she cheers me up. When I cook, she watches me from the windowsill.” Our relationship is cemented with presents. I purchase goodies at the fish markets but she takes the hunt a lot further. Every night I wake up to another surprise: a

with an illegal immigrant. Cats are not allowed. Sshhhh. After a while I feel we are in competition, and I really want my cat

back. There is only one way so, one day, I drag John out on a surprise outing. Yagoona Pound harbours hundreds of strays, and there she is: Rani Maharani. We both know her when we see her. Now, this one is a timid and shy ‘torty-tabby’ and sooo cute! John and Rani take to each other like ducks to water and equilibrium is restored. Jack is mine again. When I am uptight, she calms me down. When I am frustrated, she cheers me up. When I cook, she watches me from the windowsill. When John and I argue, she takes my side. When Rani bothers her she complains to me. When it is time to get up, she ever so gently paws my cheek. Now she is seventeen years, six months and eighteen days old. I hear of cats turning 22. I cherish every day with her. She is slower but as loving as ever. Sometimes when she feels sore with arthritis, I hold her and hum. She sleeps between John and me, as top cats do. I often think of a friend’s words from years ago: “If I ever get re-incarnated I want to come back as your cat”. How true.

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By Dr Katrina Warren

cats and

Holidays

if , like me, you consider your pets to be impor tant family members, the thought of going on holiday without them is almost unbearable .

Depending on your holiday destination and the temperament and personality of your cat, you may be able to take puss with you. However, only consider taking them if they are very confident and used to going out and about with you, plus you are sure she would enjoy the kind of holiday you have in mind. Most pet-friendly accommodation is geared towards dogs rather than cats so you will need to carefully check out the facilities beforehand. Holiday options If you are boarding your cat, be sure to check out the options well in advance. Ask fellow cat-owners and your vet for recommendations, and make an appointment to view the facilities of any catteries you are considering. Take note of the smell, cleanliness, services on offer, attitude of the staff and whether the animals staying there appear contented and well cared for. It may be preferable to leave your cat at home. The great thing about cats is that they are nowhere near as demanding on your time as dogs and you don’t have to exercise them. A friend, relative or nextdoor neighbour could drop in twice a day to feed and check on puss. Should this not be an option, investigate the various pet-minding services on offer (many will also look after your garden and collect mail while you are away). Again, word-ofmouth recommendation either from friends or your vet is usually the best way to go here. The secret to holiday happiness is in the planning – preferably as far in advance as

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possible. Make sure that you have done all of the following before setting off. 1. Book puss into a cattery or other minding service well in advance. This is particularly important if your planned vacation coincides with school holidays or other peak periods, such as Easter. 2. Your cat’s vaccination and worming schedule must be fully up-to-date before you depart, especially if you are leaving her at a cattery. Many catteries prefer vaccination programs to have been completed a fortnight before puss comes to stay, and require a vaccination certificate as proof. 3. Always transport your cat in a secure cat carry cage. It’s a good idea to take your cat’s favourite blanket or cushion, to help make her feel at home in the new surroundings. If you have any special feeding requirements or if medication is needed, don’t forget to notify staff and to pack whatever is required. Leave your own and your vet’s contact details (or a trusted friend’s if you are not going to be easily contactable) with your cat’s carer. If you are going overseas, leave written authorisation for somebody to make any necessary decisions about puss on your behalf during your absence. 4. Regardless of whether your cat is staying at home, boarding or travelling with you, she should always wear a collar with an ID tag containing contact details of her principal carer in your absence. There is absolutely no use providing your home telephone number if no one is going

to be there. If you take puss with you, be sure to put the phone number of the place you are staying on the tag. tip: On the last three nights before your holiday, wear the same old T-shirt to bed. Put it, unwashed, in puss’s bedding, so she can smell you while you’re away. This will comfort her. travelling witH your cat Most cats do not enjoy travel so removing a cat from the security of its home may cause a lot of stress and anxiety. I have met a few very outgoing cats that are not phased by loud noises, car travel and change of environment – these are the only cats I recommend taking on holidays, otherwise it will be one big upset for all concerned. I don’t recommend you ever let a cat outside in a new environment unless on a lead. Cats can frighten very easily and run off in a panic and get lost. conclusion Over the years I have met quite a few cats that happily travel by plane or car and really seem to enjoy new environments. These are usually cats that have experienced a lot of travel and socialisation when they were kittens.

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Hairballs By Jean Hofve, DVM

there’s nothing quite like the glorious feeling of stepping out of your warm bed onto a cold, squishy , slimy hairball!

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Perhaps we should feel flattered that our beloved feline companion has left a piece of herself as a special gift for us, but frankly, most of us would rather bond with our cats in other ways! Nature gave cats lots of wonderful, soft fur. Normally, when kitty grooms and ingests the dead, loose hair, it passes through the gastrointestinal (digestive) tract and comes out in the stool. A carnivore’s gut is designed to handle fur, its own as well as the fur attached to prey animals. (If you’ve ever been hiking and come across “scat” from a fox, it’s evident that it is mostly fur.) However, generations of directed breeding have created cats with much longer coats than ever conceived of by natural selection. And some cats, even shorthairs, just seem to have tender tummies. When too much hair collects in the stomach rather than passing out through the gut, it irritates the stomach lining and whoops – there’s a hairball, on its way back out the wrong end of the cat! (By the way, the correct medical term for a hairball is ‘trichobezoar’, pronounced trike-oh-bee-zohr – your vet will be impressed!). While an occasional hairball is no cause for alarm, if your cat is vomiting up a hairball more than once or twice a month, it’s time to think about a plan of

action. This will probably start with a trip to your veterinarian for a thorough exam. It’s important to make sure the problem is only hairballs and not something more serious. Problem signs include hearing the ‘Hairball Hack’ – that awful coughing sound cats make when trying to expel an offending ball of fur, and any frequent vomiting. Coughing without expelling a hairball can signal feline asthma, and frequent

Prevention, as they say, is worth a pound of cure. Frequent combing is often all it takes to resolve the problem. But brushing won’t do. Brushes tend to slide over the surface of the fur and don’t get all the dead hair out. For shorthaired cats, a fine-toothed flea comb is best. Longer hair may require a wide-toothed comb, or one with revolving teeth to prevent tearing out the hair.

“Prevention, as they say, is worth a pound of cure. Frequent combing is often all it takes to resolve the problem.” or persistent vomiting of any kind should always be checked by your vet. From a holistic point of view, excessive trouble with hairballs indicates a basic systemic or energetic imbalance. A holistic veterinarian would consider the entire cat, including history, previous medical problems, diet, environment, social and family issues – even the cat’s personality. Hairballs would be just one symptom, one that will be weighed in totality with all the other information. For instance, a cat that follows the sunbeam all over the house and sleeps next to the heater vent would receive different treatment than a cat that sits next to an open window in the dead of winter, even if they both displayed the ‘symptom’ of frequent hairballs.

Many hairball-plagued cats will try to self-medicate by eating grass or plants. The coarse plant fibres will cause the cat to vomit and, hopefully, the irritating hair will come up as well. Not all grass-loving cats have hairballs, however. You need to carefully observe your cat so you can accurately report the situation to your veterinarian. Hairball treatments generally fall into two categories: n adding fibre to the diet n giving a lubricant (usually a petroleum jelly product) to slide the hair through to the correct end of the cat for disposal. A third option, which might be used by a holistic vet, is homeopathy. A good

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remedy for foreign material in the stomach is Nux Vomica. A dose of Nux will often help the cat expel all the problematic material – but then you have to deal with a big fat hairball on the floor. In practice, I used Nux to oust some major league hairballs, as well as the occasional chicken bone or baby sock. For many years, the treatment of choice for hairballs has been petroleum jelly. This can be given plain, as in good old Vaseline, or in a commercial product, such as Laxatone, Petromalt, or Katalax. These come in malt, tuna, and liver flavours that appeal to many cats. Petroleum jelly’s molecules are too large to be absorbed by the intestines; it passes through the cat unchanged and is perfectly safe. I fed my cat, Spirit, plain Vaseline every day her whole life – she lived to be well over 20, so I feel confident in saying it didn’t hurt her at all. In fact, she loved it, and would pester me mercilessly for her bedtime dose! Administer daily for a week or two, then once or twice a week for maintenance.

Most of the hairball fo od recommends regular gro s’ packaging om in combination with th ing sessions eir food to keep hairballs down.

thought to bind the hair and stimulate the gut to help move it on through the digestive tract. You can also use canned pumpkin (up to 1 tbsp. twice a day, plain or mixed with wet food). Some cats like the taste, most don’t seem to mind it, and a few won’t have anything to do with it. Psyllium or rice bran may also be added to food. Don’t overdo the fibre, though: too big a dose at one time will ‘roto-rooter’ the gut and cause diarrhoea. Most hairball diets on the market have two to ten

“If your cat is not a petroleum jelly connoisseur, the traditional method of administering it is to smear a glob of it on a front paw.” Hairball ‘treats’ contain mineral oil rather than petroleum jelly. It works on the same principle, but has a slightly more laxative effect – don’t overdo them! Edible oils, like olive, flaxseed or fish oil will be absorbed by the intestines and thus may not finish their escort duty, although a cat with dull or dry fur would benefit from the fatty acids they contain. If your cat is not a petroleum jelly connoisseur, the traditional method of administering it is to smear a glob of it on a front paw. But be careful! A chunk of goop on a paw is liable to be flipped off in one quick and very efficient motion. My first apartment probably still has Vaseline on the ceiling! It’s better to spread it on the leg below the elbow, or any place it’s easy for your cat to lick off. You can also put a dab into a syringe and force-feed it to your cat, but if it comes to this, you’re probably better off with a more kittyfriendly method of treatment. Fibre is relatively easy to add to the diet. There are a lot of hairball control cat foods and treats out there. How do they work? The general idea is that the higher fibre content will help hair pass through the gastrointestinal tract, out the other end and into the kitty litter box where it belongs. Many hairball diet foods contain powdered cellulose and other fibres like beet pulp, while hairball treats can contain mineral oil, a laxative that works much like petroleum jelly products in helping ‘slide’ undigested hair through the intestines. The ‘natural vegetable fibre’ is commonly powdered cellulose. Fibre is

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times the normal amount of fibre, which is potentially irritating to the tender lining of the gastrointestinal tract. If you try one of these foods, make the switch gradually, and be sure to watch closely for too-loose or too-dry stools, as either may result. However, high fibre may have some serious drawbacks down the road. Besides a potential for diarrhoea/constipation, there are a number of other possible concerns: n Excessive fibre holds water in the gastrointestinal tract, which results in a more concentrated urine, which could increase the risk for urinary tract disease. Cats should be thirstier and drink more water on a higher fibre diet, but that doesn’t mean they will. n More fibre causes more stool and increased bulk, which may be undesirable to some people. No more hairy messes on the carpet, but a lot more stools in the litter box! n Even if the fibre increases intestinal mobility, it may not force the hair to pass out of the stomach, which is the real problem with hairballs – they get stuck in the stomach, not the intestines. No one has proven that fibre does anything to enhance stomach contractions or gastric emptying. Petroleum jelly products, on the other hand, do appear to get the hair out of the stomach. n Since there can never be more than 100 per cent of ingredients, an increase in fibre means a

decrease in something else. And the ingredient lists of many hairball formulas are suspiciously similar to light/diet foods. Some light/diet foods have even more fibre than the hairball formulas (but less fat). n Bloating, cramping or gas may occur as fibre is increased in the diet. For kitties, this can usually be minimised with a gradual switch of foods, but is something to keep in mind if the cat seems uncomfortable. n The hairball formula can be more expensive than maintenance diets of the same brand, even though fibre is a very inexpensive ingredient. On the positive side, many hairball formulas promise improved coat condition and a decrease in excessive hair shedding. But so do a lot of maintenance diets. Most of the hairball foods’ packaging recommends regular grooming sessions in combination with their food to keep hairballs down (or move them on through) – which is one of the best ways to decrease hairballs anyway – you don’t need a special diet to accomplish that! Many cat lovers who prepare homemade diets for their feline companions say that hairballs are much less of a problem. The cat actually has little, if any, physiological need for fibre, and it does make sense to feed what nature intended the cat to eat: meat, fat, a few organs, a little bit of vegetable matter – and, of course, hair! Some cats just need a little energetic support to get their guts working at top form once again. The essence remedy ‘Happy Tummy’ from Spirit Essences (www.SpiritEssences.com) is designed to support and balance the entire gastrointestinal tract, and may be very helpful for the hairball hurler! So don’t despair; with just a little effort, soon it will once again be safe to get out of bed!

For more information on cats by Dr Jean Hofve, go to: www.littlebigcat.com www.jacksongalaxy.com


Healthy adult cats are destroyed needlessly because of well meaning but incorrect beliefs some people have about cats and pregnancy .

By Dr Joanne Sillince

We’re pregnant

what about our cat?

Here is the science, so you make your own decisions. You can even show this article to your doctor or specialist to help you both discuss the issue rationally. Why are some doctors so afraid of cats When i’m pregnant? Cats are one of the sources of a little protozoal bug called Toxoplasma gondii, which can infect humans. Up to 35 per cent of women of child-bearing age are already immune to this bug when they become pregnant and, according to the Centers for Disease Control in the USA, one-third of the entire human population is infected with this bug. For the other 65 per cent (if they get infected with this bug during pregnancy) there can be some problems for the baby.

“It’s a big myth that you have to get rid of your cat when you are pregnant.” What does toxoplasma do? Toxoplasma is common worldwide in mammals and birds. Around 80 per cent of adults who get this bug don’t know they have it. The rest get ‘general’ symptoms such as a fever, a rash, aches and pains, swollen glands (lymph nodes) and a sore throat – most people would call these symptoms ‘the ‘flu’. If you are immunosuppressed (eg. cancer treatment, or have HIV) the symptoms can be much worse. However, people are not where the Toxoplasma wants to be! Once it is inside

the human (called the ‘end-stage host’) it can’t be passed from person to person. However, it can be passed from a pregnant mother to the developing baby if the infection is active (ie. there are a few antibodies) at the time. If this happens the bug can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or death just after birth. If the baby is born, it can cause brain problems such as blindness or epilepsy, or spleen or liver problems. On rare occasions Toxoplasma can be found in the infected baby’s skin, making a small rash. Sometimes, babies can be infected with

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Toxoplasma in the uterus and be born with no symptoms at all, only to develop symptoms later in life. If a pregnant woman is diagnosed with Toxoplasma, antibiotics are available for treatment, and the pregnancy and baby are monitored. Is the cat the vIctIm or the offender? In Australia the most common way for adults to get Toxoplasma is from: n eating raw or undercooked meat, unprocessed milk and milk products – occasionally humans can also get it from salted, cured or dried meat, or raw eggs n from the soil n water tanks – this is because animals or birds can leave faeces on the roof n kids can get ‘Toxo’ from the animal and bird faeces found in sandpits. This is why so many people in Australia already have immunity to Toxoplasma. Cats are also a natural host to Toxoplasma. It is excreted with their faeces. Studies, however, have shown that only two per cent of cats are excreting Toxoplasma oocysts at any one time. However, these oocysts can’t infect a human for 24 hours after excretion. This means litter trays can be a source of infection ONLY IF they aren’t cleaned out daily. Cats get ‘Toxo’ from soil, or from hunting small animals that have it, or from

n washing any soil off vegetables and rinsing them with running water before eating them n washing hands after handling pets n cleaning litter trays daily and wearing gloves when cleaning – a quick litter tray rinse with boiling water is useful (some people also recommend delegating litter tray cleaning duties to their partner while they are pregnant) n keeping cats off benchtops and dining tables n feeding commercial pet food rather than raw foods to your cat when

“Keeping pets away from your face and washing your hands after playing with pets should be normal practice for all pet owners anyway. ” contaminated water and young cats tend to shed more Toxoplasma than older cats. do I have to get rId of the cat? NO! It’s a big myth that you have to get rid of your cat when you are pregnant. You can still enjoy and love your friend, you just take the same precautions that every other pregnant person does. (See below.) Indoor-only cats are specIal! Because cats normally get Toxoplasma from infected soil or from the birds and mammals they hunt, cats kept indoors have a much lower infection rate. This is yet another reason to keep your cat indoors all of the time! how do I avoId InfectIon? You avoid infection by taking the simple, normal precautions that you would use when working with any animals, and avoiding the most common route of infection – certain foods. precautIons to avoId InfectIon Include: n not drinking or eating raw milk and eggs when you are pregnant, or salted/dried/cured meats such as salami n freezing meat for a minimum of three days as this tends to reduce infection

you are pregnant is also a good idea, especially to young cats. Some people don’t recommend getting a new cat while you are pregnant, and to avoid playing with kittens. The real risk, however, is very low. Keeping pets away from your face and washing your hands after playing with pets should be normal practice for all pet owners anyway. how do I know If I’m Infected? Most doctors will test you for Toxoplasma antibodies at your first pregnancy visit – usually two blood tests some weeks apart. If you have owned cats before or own one currently, you might already be immune. Your doctor will advise you on foods to avoid. If the doctor starts talking about getting rid of your cat, ask for a second opinion. It’s normal to be careful when you are pregnant, but if you don’t have antibodies to Toxoplasma you have to be more careful. Be very strict about avoiding the particular foods and wash your hands carefully after handling soil or pets. If you are thinking about getting a cat when you are pregnant, perhaps wait to get your new cat until after the baby is born.

an InterestIng bug Toxoplasma has recently been found to change the physiology of its host! In humans, high levels of antibodies to Toxoplasma before pregnancy can significantly increase the likelihood of the baby being a boy! The bug can also change the behaviour of its host. Studies show that infected rats and mice are not only less fearful of cats, but may actually seek them out – it’s as if they want to be eaten. It’s thought that this effect is the result of the parasite changing the hormone levels in the brain. There is also some suggestion that latent Toxoplasma infections in humans might also change brain hormones – producing slower reactions, shorter attention times and greater jealousy in men and greater warmth and moralistic behaviour in women. However, these studies are controversial and the changes are certainly not scientifically proven. the end game New mums and their partners want to reduce stress in pregnancy, and getting bad advice about your best pet friend isn’t helpful. Keeping risks in perspective is important, and the risk of Toxoplasma to the baby in pregnancy is small with normal precautions. Cats don’t need to be the victims of pregnancy! Cats are great pets, and most settle happily and without drama into a new world where a small, pink, noisy human arrives and all the adults start behaving strangely. Congratulations!

“Dr Jo” Sillince is a qualified veterinarian who has worked in most animal industries since graduation. She has also volunteered in dog clubs and worked in kennels and grooming.

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Surviving acute

By Lynne Morrman

necrotising pancreatitis

a couple of years ago, our eight-year-old domestic cat sunny became lethargic and stopped eating.

In two days I noticed a dramatic decline and Sunny started vomiting continuously. I took him to our local vet where they kept him in overnight as he was dehydrated. Sunny was given fluids and an X-ray was taken. The X-ray revealed a foreign body in him. “Had I lost a heart-shaped object?”, the vet asked me when we were waiting for the results. I replied, “No”. So at this stage the vet diagnosed that Sunny had swallowed an object and they were hopeful he would pass it out of his body, naturally, overnight. Unfortunately this did not happen, so the next morning Sunny went into surgery to have the object removed. However, all they found was a fur ball and it had already passed through Sunny’s system. For some reason though, even with a drip and antibiotics, Sunny was still terribly sick and would not eat. He could not even lift his head up off the table. It was heartbreaking to see. Blood tests were taken but revealed nothing unusual. Two days later the vet suggested an exploratory operation to see what the problem was. So Sunny went into surgery for a second time. This time the news was not good. A heart-shaped object was found and, in fact, it was a calcified piece of Sunny’s pancreas. The vet diagnosed Sunny with acute necrotising pancreatitis. The prognosis was not good, with the vet

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“It turned out, very much like humans, that Sunny was in fact allergic to Penicillin.” giving Sunny only a 30 per cent chance of recovery. They tried not to get my hopes up but, on the other hand, all the staff said that Sunny was such a fighter. Martin and I were devastated. I’d never even heard of acute necrotising pancreatitis. So Sunny was put into intensive care with a feeding tube in his intestine to bypass his stomach, and he was given food and water through the feeding tube every hour. Unfortunately, a couple of days later his feeding tube became blocked, so he ended up going into surgery for a third time in a week. Over the next two weeks Sunny stayed in intensive care and we visited him each night after work. The problem was that Sunny would not eat on his own. So once the feeding tube was removed he had to be given food and water every hour with a syringe. The staff were great with him, and they loved him as we had rescued him from the vet six years previously. With Sunny still not eating the vet suggested we take him home, as he was getting very depressed. He did, however, perk up when we visited. So Sunny came home with us. Unfortunately, he still would not eat by himself and was vomiting regularly.

So back to the vet we went. I explained that Sunny mostly vomited after he was given his antibiotics. So the vet suggested stopping the antibiotic and giving Sunny an injection that would help increase his appetite. We went home again and, miraculously, within the hour Sunny started eating by himself for the first time in two weeks. It turned out, very much like humans, that Sunny was in fact allergic to Penicillin. This explained why he was not making much of an improvement. From then on he improved dramatically. Sunny went for an ultrasound, which confirmed that his pancreas was very inflamed. Three months later Sunny started to vomit again. We returned to the vet and a second ultrasound confirmed that Sunny’s pancreas was again inflamed. The vet suggested a prescription diet for Sunny. This was easier said than done when you have a multi-cat household. But after a couple of weeks everyone got into the routine. Sunny is now fed in a separate room to the other cats and is only given the prescription food. It is now two years since Sunny became sick and he is back to his original weight. It was touch and go for a while but Sunny, our brave cat, defeated this very serious disease.


What is pancreatitis in cats? Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas – the organ responsible for making enzymes required for food digestion – causing it to malfunction. The inflammation causes leakage of the digestive juices produced in the pancreas. The most severe form of pancreatitis is referred to as ‘necrotising pancreatitis, which basically means ‘pancreatitis’ except that the damage is so severe portions of the pancreas are being killed. This form of pancreatitis can be fatal and requires early intervention and aggressive treatment when it is present.

...and more at www.petalia.com.au k i t t e n s & c at s a n n u a l 2 0 1 2

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De Poezenboot By Judith Gobets

(the cat Boat)

the cat Boat is the only animal sanctuar y in the netherlands that literally floats.

It’s a refuge for stray and abandoned cats that, thanks to its unique location on a houseboat in Amsterdam’s picturesque canal belt, has become a world-famous tourist attraction. Water and cats! Most cats hate water. But ours learn to love living on it. After all, we have been keeping their feet dry since 1966. In that time, The Cat Boat has developed into a modern and professional sanctuary providing tender, loving care to countless cats. History It all began a very long time ago with a mother and her kittens, and a lady called Henriette van Weelde, who took pity on them. In 1966, she found the feline family sheltering under a tree opposite her house on Amsterdam’s Herengracht canal. Henriette decided to take care of them. Another stray soon joined them, then another and another . . . Henriette quickly became known as ‘the cat lady’. People would bring her cats they were no longer able to look after themselves. Eventually the cats filled her home, then her garden and her roof terrace. Soon there was no space left. But the cats kept coming. What could she do with them all? The solution turned out to be right outside Henriette’s front door. If people could live on the houseboats that lined the canals, why not cats? And so came the idea to buy one for them. tHe first cat boat The first vessel, an old Dutch sailing barge, was acquired in 1968. The interior was stripped and converted into feline-

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friendly accommodation. And soon the first residents started moving in: strays, sick animals or ones their owners could no longer take care of. Fortunately, for Henriette, who now had a boat as well as a house full of cats, they were followed by people who wanted to help to love and care for them – our first volunteers. a second boat! The first barge was bursting at the seams after just three years. So a second boat was purchased and fitted out in 1971. By now more people were visiting – not just to bring cats, but to find a new pet of their own or to simply take a look. After all,

official status Nobody back in 1966 could have dreamed that one mother cat and her kittens would begin what was now the world’s most famous cat sanctuary. The time had come to make things official. In consultation with the city authorities, it was decided to register de Poezenboot as a charity. That status was achieved on 3 June 1987 with the creation of ‘Stichting de Poezenboot’ – the ‘Cat Boat Foundation’. 2001 and beyond Maintenance is needed – on a big scale! Much more work was needed than just a trip to the shipyard to check the hull. In 2001 we sent one of our boats for a

“If people could live on the houseboats that lined the canals, why not cats?” a floating cat’s home was something totally unique. The original barge performed a sterling service for more than a decade, but eventually had to be retired in 1979. Its replacement was a Dutch houseboat – a type appropriately known as an ‘ark’. This was specially fitted out by a shipyard to house cats, so it met all our requirements. The two boats remain moored at their original location on the Singel canal. However, the wildest and most difficult cats are now housed outside the city, at a sanctuary in Bobeldijk, near the town of Hoorn, together with a few abandoned goats and ponies.

complete overhaul so that it would meet all the legal requirements for a modern animal sanctuary. The renovation work was completed in early 2002, after which we could begin fitting out the new interior. Everything was ready by the end of March 2002, and we did not have to wait long after that for our first resident. Bloemetje, ‘Little Flower’, arrived on 3 April. Which, coincidentally, is the birthday of our founder, Henriette van Weelde.


J gobets and Ja gobets

J gobets and Ja gobets J gobets and Ja gobets

J gobets and Ja gobets

Read this befoRe you get a cat! Please think about: n all those hairs n your sofa and precious objects n your plants n your other pets n the fleas n the dirty litter tray n veterinary and other costs n cat diseases n holiday care n your children n all the time, attention, patience and sacrifices required. You are making a commitment for about 15 years! (If you are still sure that you want a cat, you are more than welcome to visit us so that we can find the right one for you!) the cat boat singel 38.g 1015 ab amsterdam Wg bank 5085515 the netherlands www.poezenboot.nl e-mail: depoezenboot@gmail.com

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Families &

pets

Over the years, human-animal interaction studies have shown that pets such as cats and dogs can have incredibly positive effects on all areas of child and teen development . A kid’s best friend Pets and children: What a beautiful friendship. A 2003 study into the role pets play in developing children’s social networks revealed a great deal about human-animal interactions. A number of children were asked who they would turn to in certain emotionally-charged situations – such as the divorce of their parents or an argument with a sibling. An overwhelming majority said they would seek out their pet for companionship. It was also discovered that children confide in their pets, talking to them, expressing fears and emotions in much the same way we interact with a human confidante. teAcher’s pet Kids love animals, and it seems the feeling is mutual. Pets can help facilitate learning and they have a number of positive effects on a child’s development. Schools are now catching onto the benefits of introducing pets into their community by creating pet clubs, special pet days and offering pet education programs. For children, pets at school foster a sense of responsibility and respect for life. Programs like the ‘Operation Safe: Kids ‘n’ Pets’ run by the Animal Welfare League of New South Wales offers wonderful learning programs to teach all levels of school children about responsible pet ownership

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and animal behaviour. Topics include: pets in the community, the basics of pet care, what happens when people don’t want their pets and pets and the law. pets rArely cAll in sick Great news for teachers! Three schools in a UK study tracked children aged five to eleven years from both pet-owning families and non pet-owning families. The study found that children who had pets in the family attended school more regularly whilst children from non pet-owning families were absent due to illness more often.

Germany. Some 80 per cent said that their cat helped them get along better with their family and friends whilst a huge 81 per cent said they would rather open up and talk about their feelings to their cat – rather than to parents or friends. dogs, cAts And divorce An astounding 90 per cent of children consider their dog to be a true friend. They have a therapeutic effect on children who are experiencing a parental divorce. Dogs and cats have a calming effect on children, helping him or her to remain

“Pets can help facilitate learning and they have a number of positive effects on a child’s development.” pets And Allergy prevention Children who have contact with cats or dogs during the first year of their life may be less allergic later on. Researchers discovered that early exposure to pets is associated with a reduced risk of asthma and other allergies. Good grooming, hygiene and diet can reduce cat owners’ asthma symptoms by up to 95 per cent. Pet allergies can be triggered by ‘dander’, better known as tiny skin flakes, that fall off cats and dogs. fAmily relAtions Over 100 young cat owners aged 13 years and under were interviewed as part of a study at the University of Bonn in

more socially integrated. Children without a pet demonstrated more negative behaviour such as stubbornness and irritability. Pets fill an emotional void for children in ‘divorce’ situations and it’s clear why. Dogs and cats represent unconditional positive emotions for children; they provide a sense of responsibility and unlike the divorce situation itself – they pose no threat of conflict or disappointment. Thanks to OPTIMUM at www.optimumpet.com.au


Sense-ational vetS By Dr Caroline Perrin, Dr Jacqui Ley, Dr Gaille Perry and Dr Kersti Seksel Veterinary Behaviourists

She crouches, her body tense, ready to spring into action. Her ears pricked and aler t , pointing for ward , listening carefully to ever y sound.

Her eyes are alert, dilated pupils carefully watching, every movement carefully monitored. Her tail is flicking backwards and forwards. She spots the fly, leaps into the air and catches it against the glass with a carefully placed paw. The buzzing stops. She carefully lifts her paw, slowly. The buzzing recommences and she is off, jumping and leaping over chairs as she chases it around the house again. Anyone that has ever owned a cat cannot help but admire the amazing athleticism and fine grace of the domestic cat. She can climb trees, walk fences like a tight rope and get herself into all sorts of clever places. Evolving rElationships The relationship between cats and humans spans at least 9000 years. The earliest direct evidence of cat domestication is a kitten that was buried alongside a human 9,500 years ago in Cyprus. The cat specimen was large and closely resembled the African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica), rather than present-day domestic cats. This discovery, combined with genetic studies, suggests that cats were probably domesticated in the Near East and then brought to Cyprus and Egypt. It is thought that cats became domesticated, and diverged from their wild relatives, as they adapted to hunting mice and other vermin attracted to the food found in human towns and villages. And since then, the relationship has waxed and waned through different times and cultures until we have the relationship we have today.

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Survival Feline athleticism is one of the keys to their success as a species, as it enables cats to catch their dinner and avoid predators. Feral cats eat 10–20 small meals a day. This usually consists of birds, insects, reptiles and rodents. The prey can be actively hunted or the cat can sit and wait for the prey before ‘pouncing’ on their target. This ability is innate, although it requires practice to master and, in the wild, only about 50 per cent of hunting

cats hear sounds too faint for human ears, they can also hear sounds higher in frequency than humans or dogs. The ability to hear these ultrasonic frequencies, allows cats to detect rodents and other items of prey. Their large and mobile ears enable them to capture and amplify sounds and accurately locate the direction from which a noise is coming. touch To aid with navigation and sensation, cats have dozens of movable vibrissae or

“The ability to hear these ultrasonic frequencies, allows cats to detect rodents and other items of prey.” expeditions are successful. Cats also tend to hunt and eat as solitary activities. Their remarkable senses are specifically developed to allow them to catch these items of prey. Night viSioN Cats have excellent night vision. They can see at only one-sixth of the light level required for human vision. The shiny surface on the back of the eye – the tapetum – helps reflect light back into the eye in dim light. This is what gives cats their ‘green eyes’ at night. Their pupils can constrict to tiny slits in full light or dilate to full circles in the dark, enabling maximum light capture. However, they have poor colour vision, seeing mainly blue and yellowish green hues. heariNg As nocturnal predators, cats use their acute hearing to locate prey. Not only can

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coarse hairs over their body, especially their face. These include their main set of whiskers, as well as hairs on their eyebrows, cheeks and chin. They also have vibrissae near the wrists on their front paws as well as tufts of hair in their ears and on the tips of the ears. These provide information on the width of gaps and on the location of objects in the dark, both by touching objects directly and by sensing air currents. Cats’ whiskers are highly sensitive to touch. Smell Cats also have a much better sense of smell than humans. Domestic cats select food based on its temperature, smell and texture, strongly disliking chilled foods and responding most strongly to moist foods rich in protein, which are similar to meat. They have relatively few taste buds compared to humans and most cats are unable to taste sweet food. Rather, their

taste buds respond to protein, bitter tastes and acids. During weaning, the kittens will normally sample the same foods their mother eats, and therefore learn what is safe. This leads to strong taste preferences based on the type and availability of foods during weaning. Consequently, house-reared kittens develop preferences for prepared pet food while feral cats develop preferences for natural or prey food. Adult cats are known to have individual taste preferences. These may be established during weaning when kittens are sampling different types of food. Cats may reject novel flavours and learn quickly to avoid foods that have tasted unpleasant in the past. This is why your cat may reject a different type of food or learn to avoid foods that have had medications placed in them in the past. Diet Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that they must eat meat so cannot be fed a vegetarian diet. They require a diet with at least 20 per cent protein (compared to dogs that require a 12 per cent protein diet). They are also unable to make the amino acid ‘taurine’, so must meet their requirements by consuming sufficient levels in seafood or meat. The absence of taurine causes a cat’s retina to degenerate, causing eye problems and eventually irreversible blindness. Low taurine is also associated with feline dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition that causes the heart muscles to become thin


Sydney AnimAL BehAviour Service Bringing together a knowledge of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Behaviour, and the latest training and behaviour modification techniques

For well over a decade we have successfully managed

Each pet is individually assessed and potential contributing

many dog, cat and bird behaviour problems all over Australia.

medical factors are ruled out. Then a comprehensive behaviour

As veterinarians who have additional qualifications in

modification programme is recommended. This programme

animal behaviour we have helped thousands of owners

takes into consideration not only the pet and its problems but

understand why their pets do what they do. Behaviour

the interaction and dealings with the whole family.

problems can occur at any age and early intervention

Today’s society has expectations of the way our pets should

can help your pet cope better with the demands of living in

behave. Both dogs and cats can have problems that can

human society – and restore that special bond …

be hard to live with and managing their behavioural needs

We have extensive experience seeing pets with problems

can be challenging. A Veterinary Behaviourist can make a

including aggression, barking, fears, phobias, separation

difference in helping you and your pet live in harmony.

anxiety, toileting problems, spraying and obsessive

If your pet’s behaviour is causing you problems, please do

compulsive disorders.

not hesitate to contact us and see how we can help you.

Providing the services of: Dr Kersti Seksel

Kersti Seksel & Associates Pty Ltd

BVSc (Hons) MRCVS MA (Hons) FACVSc (Animal Behaviour) Dipl ACVB CMAVA Dip ECVBM-CA

Registered Specialist in Animal Behaviour

Dr Gaille Perry BVSc MACVSc (Veterinary Behaviour) PhD DipEd BEd Studies Dr Jacqui Ley BVSc (Hon) PhD MANZCVS (Veterinary Behaviour) CMAVA Dr Caroline Perrin BVSc MACVSc (Veterinary Behaviour) CMAVA

CMAVA

ABN 47 099 148 491 ACN 099 148 491

55 Ethel Street, SEAFORTH NSW 2092

Tel: (02) 9949 8511 Fax: (02) 9949 6364

www.sabs.com.au


and weak and, if not treated, will progress to heart failure. This heart disease is reversible with adequate taurine supplementation. Commercial cat foods are required to have minimum levels of taurine so, fortunately, these days veterinarians rarely need to treat this condition. As dogs are able to synthesise their own taurine, dog foods do not have taurine supplementation. This is why it is fine for dogs to eat cat food, but cats should not eat dog food. Cats originated from the desert and have very efficient kidneys – they can concentrate their urine to over double the strength that humans can. And, if fed a tinned food diet, they may need only minimal water intake requirements. This is why your cat will spend much less time at the water bowl than your dog. But have you ever wondered how lapping works? Dogs and many other animals with incomplete cheeks can’t seal their mouths like we do to produce suction. So they lap water by curling their tongues into a

Feral cats never eat a nd drink from the same location, so tho and water bowls do n se double food ot reflect natural eating and drinking behaviour.

Research shows that cats hunt regardless of their hunger levels or their intention to eat the prey. We can capitalise on these natural hunting tendencies to help prevent obesity by trying to feed cats actively rather than passively. Rather than feeding the food from a bowl, it can be hidden in puzzle toys. There are many different food puzzle toys on the market that release dry food as the cat plays with the toy. Homemade toys can be made using old 500ml plastic

“Research shows that cats hunt regardless of their hunger levels or their intention to eat the prey.” ladle-like shape and scooping up the liquid. However, cats are unique as they employ a much more delicate and clever mechanism. As the cat moves its tongue vertically upwards into the mouth, water gets attached to the tongue’s tip and gets drawn up to form a water column. Gravity opposes this action. To get a satisfying drink, the cat must lap at the right speed to ensure the water column moves faster than the opposing gravity. Interestingly, other cats such as lions and tigers also utilise this type of lapping. However, as they are taller and have bigger tongues, they need to lap more slowly than domestic cats to produce the water column and get a satisfying drink. CreAting the purrfeCt home This is all fascinating, you may say; however, how is this relevant to your cat? The answer is that by understanding the normal behaviour of cats, you can use this information to create a great home for yourself and, most importantly, the cats that share your home. As cats are often solitary, a cat-friendly environment contains plenty of resources that are spread throughout the home and provide lots of opportunities for cats to be cats. A good rule of thumb is one of each item per cat and one extra. So this means lots of litter boxes, sleeping places, scratching surfaces, food and water stations, as well as opportunities for play and exploration. Obviously, these need to be tailored to the tastes of the owner and the cat, so what is suitable in one home, may not be suitable in another.

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drink bottles or cleaned yoghurt containers with holes cut in the ends and the sides that release food as the cat plays with them. Initially, the holes can be quite large, enabling the food to fall out easily but, as the cat becomes more skilled at using the toy, newer versions with smaller holes can be made. Alternatively, food can be placed at various points around the home. This requires the cat to explore the home to find it, including jumping up to elevated areas. Again, this can be made more challenging as your cat gets the idea of the game. Timed automatic feeders may also help reduce the intake of food by the cat. One study found that limiting the quantity of food but increasing the frequency of feeding helped cats to lose weight. Cats that live in multi-cat households may not always want to be fed together or share meals from the same bowl. (Remember they are solitary hunters who like to eat by themselves). Little research in the domestic cat has been undertaken to date in this area. However, this might be something to keep in mind, particularly in households where the cats are not great buddies. Feral cats never eat and drink from the same location, so those double food and water bowls do not reflect natural eating and drinking behaviour. This is why you may see your cat drinking from the dog’s water bowl or lapping from a pot plant. Keeping food and water bowls at a distance from each other suits most cats better.

When cats hunt, they tend to use short, sharp bursts of energy. Have you ever noticed how your cat will play with a toy for a short burst then lose interest? For many cats, three minutes of play at a time is sufficient – one minute of active play, one minute of rest then another minute of active play. Obviously, there will be individual differences depending on their age, activity levels and other opportunities for exploration and play. Toy choice will often mimic prey preferences, and every cat has individual preferences. Toys that squeak, chirp, jitter or swing remind them of moving meals and entice interaction. Balls enable cats to chase and capture. Toys at the end of a string mimic insects or birds moving in the air or on the ground. There is no set number of toys that your cat needs, but variety is the key to keep them from getting bored with the toys. It often works best to have a batch of toys that can be rotated, keeping them interested. (Interestingly, Australian cats do not seem to be as responsive to Catnip as American cats). Obviously not all toys are safe for all cats so use your judgement regarding suitability and selection of toys. Toys should also be regularly checked for signs of wear and tear, and thrown out before they become dangerous. Cats love to climb and view the world from a safe and secure place. This way your cat can observe the activity in the home as well as outside, through the window etc. They can also avoid other cats in the home, dogs and small children if needed. And the vertical space available to your cat is just as important as the floor space. So if you live in an apartment or flat and you provide plenty of perches, your cat will be very happy. Cats are very popular pets. And if popularity is a measure of success as a species, then cats are very successful. Some might say they are purr-fect!

Sydney Animal Behaviour Service www.sabs.com.au 02 9949 8511


the importance of

Desexing a cat By Kate Baker Animal Welfare League of Queensland

When making the decision to add a furr y companion to the family there are many things to consider in order to ensure a healthy and loving life for your new addition as well as pets nationwide . Pet overpopulation is a serious problem that is plaguing Australia and is perpetuated one litter at a time. By desexing your kitten or cat you are directly responsible for saving the lives of the orphan felines waiting for homes in pounds and shelters. The truth is, cats are breeding machines and many owners are oblivious to the backstreet shenanigans their fur balls get up to. When the hormones hit, undesexed females actively seek males and keep seeking until mated. Testosterone charged males are more than willing and will viciously brawl with each other to win the ‘prize’. As a result thousands of kittens are born into the world with an uncertain future. The National Desexing Network (NDN) is a nationwide referral system for discounted desexing made available to owners in financial need. Its goal is to end overpopulation by making the service more affordable to those who might not otherwise be in a position to desex their pets. NDN Director and Animal Welfare League of Queensland board member, Sylvana Wenderhold, says it is safe, quick and beneficial for a kitten’s health to be desexed at 8- to 12-weeks old. “We must desex ourselves out of this huge problem, because the truth is we are never going to have a shortage of cats— to be honest the thought is just ridiculous,” she said.

“In Australia more than 200,000 healthy cats and dogs are put to sleep because of overpopulation, therefore we strongly believe it’s vital that the community helps desex us out of this problem.” It is startling to learn that although Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, around 23 cats and dogs are euthanised every hour of every day in pounds and shelters nationwide. Ms Wenderhold admits overpopulation is made worse by a

reproductive organs. Continual breeding can be a real strain on a female’s body and many suffer from physical and nutritional exhaustion. There are many dangerous myths surrounding desexing, which can be significantly damaging to organisations such as the NDN as well as shelters and pounds. There is the belief that desexing changes an animal’s personality. This is not true as it actually only takes away the unwanted behaviour, like marking territory

“ . . . around 23 cats and dogs are euthanised every hour of every day in pounds and shelters nationwide.” combination of lack of education and owners not considering desexing a high priority. “When people adopt or buy a kitten many are so focused on their new companion they forget to get them desexed. Then there are others that don’t realise cats can become pregnant from around four or five months of age,” she said. Desexing your pet not only helps in the quest to stop overpopulation, it is a proven and well-known fact that it improves health, prevents disease and injury and promotes longevity. Desexed pets generally live longer and healthier lives because the operation reduces the risk of cancer and other diseases of the

and aggression. Desexed pets are less prone to wander, fight or get lost and are less likely to suffer from anti-social and territorial behaviour. A pet’s natural instinct to protect its home and family is not sacrificed as this trait is formed more by genetics and environment than by sex hormones. “If a cat’s personality changes it is usually for the better as they tend to relax and become calmer and less restless because they’re no longer constantly looking for a mate,” Ms Wenderhold said. If anything, it is likely females will be happier that they are not coming into season every six months and being prevented from mating. Females who are left undesexed become obsessed

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with finding a mate and will yowl almost continuously. “Owning a female cat on heat can be quite hard to handle as they cry incessantly, which can lead to many sleepless nights,” Ms Wenderhold said. “On the other hand, undesexed males are constantly wandering in search of a female and therefore put themselves in danger by crossing roads. Another serious issue to consider is that diseases can be transmitted during the mating act.” Many believe it is better to allow a female to have one litter before desexing, but medical evidence indicates the opposite. There is actually no health, emotional or behavioural benefits linked to waiting. “Allowing a female to have a litter before desexing isn’t advisable at all as it actually increases her chance of developing mammory cancer,” Ms Wenderhold continued. “Many people question ‘how does one little litter hurt?’ but they don’t realise that for every cat they rehome can mean a death sentence for cats already waiting for a home in shelters. The NDN is pushing for mandatory desexing laws so that every cat in shelters and pet shops is sold desexed, that way the responsibility is shifted from the new owner.” It is understandable that many owners are put-off by the thought of spending

Every hour of every day cats and dogs are kil 23 healthy led in shelters across Australia simp ly because they have no homes.

experts and welfare leagues worldwide have dismissed this belief as nothing but an absurd myth. It is uneducated beliefs like this that threaten to derail projects like the NDN. If every owner had the opinion that ‘a male cat has to do what a male cat has to do’ then the overpopulation problem would spiral even more out of control. Overpopulation is significantly worse during the summer months because it is breeding season. The majority of litters are born within weeks of each other at a time, which means shelters are inundated with hundreds of surrendered kittens. Primarily the Christmas period is meant to be a time of joy, but for cats and dogs it can be distressing and heartbreaking as well as for those caring for them in shelters and pounds. There is a misconception that finding homes for kittens is easy but this is not the case. During breeding season you are

“Overpopulation is significantly worse during the summer months because it is breeding season.” money, especially in this economic climate, but an undesexed kitten can make for a very expensive adult cat. The surgery is a one-off cost and a bargain compared to the cost of caring for a mother and her litter. AdvAntAgES of dESExing n You will not be faced with the financial burden of finding money for food and vet bills for the offspring. n Desexing can save you the emotional stress and financial hassle of having to fork out for expensive surgeries from car accidents or fights, which are less likely if your pet doesn’t roam. n On an ethical level, desexing also reduces the cost to the community of having to care for unwanted or unexpected kittens in pounds and shelters. n Although you may not have direct responsibility as the owner of a male cat, you will be morally responsible for the suffering, which can follow. Men often refuse to desex males because they believe it is inhumane and a blow to the cat’s masculinity. Vets, animal

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competing with tens of hundreds of kittens also needing to find homes. Additionally, shelters and pounds will be overflowing. Ms Wenderhold admits that in the warmer months it is not only kitten numbers that will rise but adult cats too. “Summer can be a very unfair time for mature cats in shelters as they often get overlooked because most people are instantly attracted to the little kittens,” she said. During breeding season, not-for-profit rehoming organisations – such as the Animal Welfare League of Qld who rely on community donations and council support – are placed under immense pressure. They struggle to make additional room for the influx of animals and to find the money and resources to care for them. To animal lovers it can be distressing to learn that many people view pets from shelters much like a used car. There is the disconcerting belief that adopting from a shelter is the same as buying ‘used goods’ or buying ‘someone else’s problems’. However, the majority of surrendered animals are not dangerous or problematic. They simply come from owners who did not consider the time, effort and expense

involved in caring for them. While some of the pets that have been neglected or abandoned need training and gentle discipline, most arrive at the shelter with basic manners. Most shelters rehome pets that have been desexed, microchipped, vaccinated, wormed and have had a physical examination. Adopting a kitten or cat not only helps to combat overpopulation, it can serve as an invaluable lesson to children. A child can be taught the value of a second chance and basic values of compassion and caring, especially for those less fortunate. Many people are quick to dismiss shelters because they have their minds set on a purebred and believe shelters only house mixed breeds. But at least one out of every four pets living in shelters across the country are, in fact, purebreds. The sad fact is that there are just far too many homeless cats and dogs – both mixed breed and purebred. Another important thing to consider as a pet owner is that microchips must be updated whenever your personal details change. It is surprising the number of animals who end up in pounds and shelters because their owners cannot be contacted. Every hour of every day 23 healthy cats and dogs are killed in shelters across Australia simply because they have no homes. Reducing this shocking statistic lies with each individual owner and the choices they make. Remember, for every cat that is accidentally bred there is another one already waiting for a second chance at life in a shelter or pound.

Kate Baker is a radio journalist and a volunteer writer for the Animal Welfare League of Queensland. She is an animal lover of both domestic pets and wildlife. She hopes to use her communication skills in the areas of animal welfare and wildlife and environmental conservation. Email: communications@awlqld.com.au


Feeding

Your kitten

By Dr Julia Adams BVSc, Petalia Resident Vet

Great excitement! You’ve brought home your new kitten but what to feed it? Julia adams examines the choices available.

There are many differing opinions about what constitutes the best diet for dogs and cats. Since high-quality premium foods (also known as super-premium) deliver all the nutrients required for good health, they are recommended by many veterinarians and breeders and are convenient to use. These days the top brand foods do not contain artificial preservatives, and are formulated for different life stages of the animal eg. puppy/kitten, adult, performance/active adult and senior pet, as they have different nutritional requirements. There are also commercial veterinaryformulated natural diets available that are nutritionally balanced. However, there isn’t one diet that is going to suit all pets and

“If a cat isn’t exposed to a variety of foods, tastes and textures early in life, it is difficult to introduce new foods or change their diet as an adult. ” personal preference is also a factor. The main concern is that it is a complete and balanced diet. Most nutritional problems occur when a diet comprises of only one type of food; for example, all meat, all bones, all vegetables etc. The easiest way to ensure a complete diet is to discuss your kitten’s nutritional requirements with your vet before embarking on a feeding program. What is the best diet for my kitten? It is recommended to feed kittens mainly premium-brand commercial foods as they are calorie dense, which enables

kittens to grow rapidly. Kittens require higher levels of energy and nutrients, up to three–four times the amount needed by an adult cat. Offering a combination of kibble and tinned food is ideal. Your kitten needs to be exposed to different tastes, flavours and textures so they don’t become fussy adult eaters but any changes in diet need to be made gradually to avoid gastric upset. hoW often and hoW much should i feed my kitten? Small meals are tolerated better than large meals, so feed kittens smaller meals

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often. As a general guide, kittens need to be fed at least three times a day until they are four or five months old (small meals often), then gradually reduce to two feeds a day by the time they are eight or nine months old. Kittens should be offered as much food as they like at each meal to ensure they have an adequate intake of nutrients; they are unlikely to overeat at this stage in their life. CAn I feed my kItten bones? From around 12 weeks of age you can introduce some raw food to your kitten’s diet. Exposure to gnawing and chewing while its eating habits are evolving is critical for its future health. If a cat isn’t exposed to a variety of foods, tastes and textures early in life, it is difficult to introduce new foods or change their diet as an adult. Chewing and gnawing provides exercise for the gums. Stripping the meat off the bone acts like dental floss and helps reduce tartar accumulation and promotes good oral cavity hygiene. Offer your kitten a small raw lamb cutlet, riblet or a chicken wing in place of one of its rations once or twice a week. Chicken wings should only be fed when very fresh to avoid bacterial contamination and food poisoning. Very lightly searing the outside of the chicken wing for a minute can improve its palatability as long as it isn’t cooked

Cats also require a hig her level of protein and fat in th eir and a lower level of ca diet than dogs rbohydrates.

Meat-based tinned food may be preferable as allergy or intolerance to fish is not uncommon in cats. If desired, a small tin of unflavoured tuna can be fed as canned food once or twice a week. Dry food may be phased out at this stage; with perhaps a handful offered a few times a week or a few pieces a day as a treat. This more natural diet is the view of some veterinarians, such as leading Australian feline veterinarians Dr Vic Menrath and Dr Richard Malik, who believe it’s best to avoid processed foods and overfeeding. Many veterinarians, however, do advocate feeding commercial dry food diets. As well as convenience, you are offering all the nutrients your cat requires without the mess and hassle of keeping fresh bones available. Additionally, not all cats can tolerate bones or even accept

“Cats are strict carnivores so require food of animal origin to survive.” through. Cooked bones tend to splinter and can cause perforations of the oesophagus and intestines. Bones should make up less than 10 per cent of the kitten’s total food intake over the period of a week. WhAt About mIlk? Kittens do not require milk in their diet after weaning from their mother. Most cats (and dogs) are lactose intolerant so dairy products cause diarrhoea. If you wish, you can offer some lactose-free kitten milk available from the supermarket. feedIng oldeR kIttens: nAtuRAl veRsus CommeRCIAl Once around 12 months of age your kitten can go onto a more natural diet with 40–50 per cent of its diet made up of a raw chicken wing, chicken drumstick, lamb cutlet, beef spare rib or piece of osso bucco each day. Very active cats may require more. A lamb shank can keep a young cat going for 24 hours, if chewed to the bone. Tinned food can also be fed. A small tin once a day is sufficient if the kitten has a chicken wing or lamb cutlet for its other meal. If your cat won’t eat bones then two small tins a day would be required to supply sufficient calories.

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them. New ‘dental diet’ foods are available that are formulated to assist the mechanical removal of plaque and dental calculus. If feeding a dry food diet, consider feeding a combination of dry food and tinned food, and stick to the manufacturer’s feeding guide. As dry food is calorie-dense, it is tempting to feed more than is required. Overweight and obese cats have more health issues as they get older and, consequently, a shorter lifespan. don’t foRget the WAteR! Cats need access to fresh water at all times. Some cats prefer water that is running so you can leave a bowl in a sink or in the shower under a slow drip (keep the toilet seat down!). Some cats don’t like chlorine so you may need to try using cool boiled water to encourage drinking. foods to AvoId Onions and garlic, grapes and raisins, chocolate and xylitol (artificial sweetener) are all toxic to pets. Avoid feeding table scraps – occasional treats such as roast chicken meat are fine but cats can’t digest a lot of vegetable matter or rice and pasta.

RemembeR, CAts ARe not smAll dogs Cats and dogs have different nutritional requirements. Cats are strict carnivores so require food of animal origin to survive. Cats are unique in that they need specific nutrients which they cannot manufacture in their body, unlike dogs, and are not present in foods of plant origin, including Vitamin A, taurine and certain fatty acids. However, meat alone does not supply all the essential nutrients and cats cannot survive on an all-meat diet. In the wild the cat would consume its entire kill, including bones, organs, tendons, skin and muscle to provide the correct balance of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. Meat is low in vitamins and also has an imbalance of calcium and phosphorus, which can affect bone growth. Cats also require a higher level of protein and fat in their diet than dogs and a lower level of carbohydrates. It is therefore not good for dogs to eat mainly cat food as this can lead to obesity and kidney problems, especially in older dogs and ones with existing kidney disease. CheCk-uPs Lastly, don’t forget to worm your kitten regularly, treat for fleas, ticks and heartworm, and keep its vaccinations up to date. Your vet can help you choose the most suitable product/s for your kitten, advise when to have your kitten desexed and microchipped, and even show you how to brush your kitten’s teeth! If your kitten or cat has trouble eating or goes off its food at any time, don’t wait – take him or her to see your vet. Reference Richard Malik, DVSc M Vet Clin Stud PhD FACVSc FASM, ‘Feeding cats for health and longevity’, The Veterinarian, August 2007.

Julia Adams is the resident vet at Petalia – www.provet.com.au


Designer By Akemi Tanaka Blanchard

Cats!

as a furniture designer , i have sought to find ecofriendly and innovative solutions for enter taining in small spaces.

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My love of my cats, moving into my new home and not being satisfied with what I found on the market has led me down my latest path – a wall-mounted cat bed. Experiences throughout my life have influenced who I am as a designer. I learned compassion for all living things early in my life through my parents who would rescue any animal that crossed their paths. I learned to prepare way too much food during the holidays so that everyone would be well fed and happy. Later in life, I realised that these ideas still resonate through my work. Whether it is people or animals, I like to design products that make all feel welcomed and comfortable. In the begInnIng As a child growing up in a small suburban town, my first memories always seemed to revolve around animals. We had birds, cats, a dog, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and the occasional rescued squirrel, robin and pigeon, many of which I begged my parents to get or keep. My favourite was the cat I picked out when I was eleven years old. I named her Sachi. She was the runt of the litter and had her fair share of health problems. She was also a very cranky cat who did not like anyone except for me. And that was only sometimes. Nonetheless, I loved her unconditionally and secretly relished the fact that she did not like anyone else. She never even warmed up to anyone after I went to college for four years. After

“Through community-based support and effort, I was able to make small changes within a local animal care and control facility that positively impacted animals, employees and people looking to adopt.” college, she came with me to my first apartment and finally lived with me full time. She seemed to enjoy the fact that she was no longer being bothered by any other animals. Sachi enjoyed the peace of an animal-free apartment for three years. Then Chilly gently pushed herself into our lives. I had not planned on having another cat. In fact, my boyfriend (now husband) was dead-set against it but I couldn’t help feeling sorry for her. She was just skin and bones with a lot of fur missing. Definitely not a looker! It was the start of winter and I knew she would not last, as I would see her shivering on cold days. I also knew she was still caring for what was left of her litter of feral kittens. But she was a street-smart city cat and played her cards right. At some point, Chilly had been someone’s pet because after gaining her trust she was very friendly and loving, with a vibrant personality. After weeks of feeding her on the sidewalk outside my apartment building, I looked out onto the inner courtyard my ground-floor apartment faced. Coming out of a broken basement window, I saw Chilly squeezing herself out and into the courtyard. Then she saw me. From then on, she would climb up to my window and

meow at me. I started letting her in to warm up and eat. My boyfriend was not pleased at all by this turn of events – but not for long. Chilly wasn’t silly. One evening when he caught me with Chilly in the apartment, she took one look at him and started weaving herself between his feet, purring the entire time. I couldn’t believe my eyes, but that was exactly what she needed to do in order to secure a place within our family, and she did it with flying colours. Cat furnIture While I was getting my Industrial Design Master’s degree, my thesis adviser told the class, “Take this opportunity to either get in the door to an industry/career you are interested in pursuing post graduation, or use this project to do something you are passionate about”. I decided on the latter option. With my lifelong love of animals, years of volunteering at animal shelters and the recent passing of Sachi at eighteen years old, I focused on trying to improve the lives and environment of shelter animals through design. The idea was simple. It was an investigation into the needs of existing animal shelters, and how creative ideas and seemingly simple solutions can have a big impact on the quality of life for both

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the animals and people involved. The challenges lay within the philosophy that these solutions should be low or free, easy to implement, and be undertaken by others so as to not distract employees from their main concern, that of animal care. Through community-based support and effort, I was able to make small changes within a local animal care and control facility that positively impacted animals, employees and people looking to adopt. For example, I organised sewing parties with donated fabric in all different colourful prints to make dog and cat beds. Taking a few hours with a group of volunteers, we were able to make over thirty-five beds and it cost next to nothing. In addition, some people even learned a new skill – how to use a sewing machine. It didn’t matter if the beds were imperfect, the animals would be non-judgemental. It turned out to be a great experience for all involved. These simple beds made the animals much more comfortable and calm in their cages which, as a result, reduced the noise in each of the shelter’s rooms. It also made their temporary home look more attractive and the animals happier to potential adopters. The fun part was letting the staff determine the best print for the animal’s colouring. Little did I realise that the thesis would not only be a passion but a career path. Space-Saving ideaS During school, I became very interested in designing eco-friendly furniture for small spaces. Being on student budgets, my classmates and I had small apartments, yet we liked to entertain within our home. How could furniture help to facilitate socialisation within a small footprint? Studying recreational vehicles and boats, multi-functional furniture seemed like a great solution. I began trying to design an object that could be useful when one was alone in the apartment and then could transform into additional seating when guests were present. Over the next year, development began on finding elegant solutions to this problem. In the end, Futaba and Tagei were born. Both were made of eco-friendly bamboo plywood. Futaba, a Japanese word meaning ‘double leaves sprout from one seed’, is a coffee table that flips open to reveal a love seat. With contoured cushions and a backrest, Futaba becomes a comfortable seat but loses the coffee table function. Tagei, translating to versatility, addresses that issue. Tagei is a coffee table in which the two halves slide open to reveal an upholstered bench. The two halves of the coffee table become side tables flanking the bench. The bench is a little less comfortable than the love seat but the table function remains through the transformation. However, back to cats! A few years ago, my husband and I bought our first

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“. . . I organised sewing parties with donated fabric in all different colourful prints to make dog and cat beds.” apartment. After moving six times in the last ten years, it was exhilarating to be able to call the place our own. We were able to finally invest time and effort into designing the space, knowing it was going to be for the long-term. Having freshly graduated from my master’s program, I was eager to decorate our modern but small apartment in my vision with carefully selected furnishings and décor. Needless to say, to this day it is still a work in progress. cat comfort Living in an urban environment the goal was to make the place inviting yet calming and fun for our three lively indoor cats, two of which were adopted as young rescues the year before. With boundless energy, a fascination for anything moving outside the window, a love of napping and being able to survey their kingdom below them, I wanted to give them a piece of furniture that would facilitate all these activities. But I also did not want to sacrifice precious floor space in a small apartment nor style. I wanted the object to blend in with the rest of the furnishings, which had simple, clean lines. There was a lot of cat furniture on the market but I found that nothing really satisfied all the needs of my cats and me. The lack of products focusing equally on the buyers’ (in this case, me) and users’ needs (the cat) was frustrating. Not willing to settle for a product that did not meet all my requirements, I came to the conclusion that I needed to figure out my own solution. If nothing else, it was going to be good practise for my newly acquired skills and a fun personal home project. I tackled this perceived design problem as I would any other, by looking at the needs of the users. These included the knowledge that cats: n love to jump, climb and perch up high n like structures that feel secure n find places to nap that are enveloping and soft n really want to be a part of the action and excitement happening

in a room but, at the same time, do not really want to be acknowledged. For my requirements, I wanted something that really did not look like cat furniture. I wanted something that one might overlook in the room because it blends in seamlessly with the rest of the furnishings. While I am crazy about my cats, I don’t want my home to immediately scream that fact to every guest that walks into it. Only after pages and pages of sketching and creating cardboard models did I come up with something that resembles the final result. Many times things that look like the least complicated and most straightforward and effortless are actually the hardest to design. And this was no different. For instance, it took eight different bracket designs to finally come up with one that was a simple right angle. Now it looks like that was the most obvious choice from the start – but that was not always the case. concluSion In the end, the design passed the test of the most important critics, the cats. No matter how well I thought I designed it, the project was all for naught if the cats never used it. Success was achieved as they have spent countless hours napping, playing and looking out the window and observing the world around them. The curve of the bent wood allows them to feel secure while napping and rolling around, while the bracket design allows Curve to mount anywhere on a wall. After family and friends starting asking for their own ones, I realised other people shared my opinions and aesthetics, and saw the need for the product in the market. Curve, as it became known, was added to the furniture collection. What started out as a side project to home decorating became a career. In the end, it was wonderful to be able to meld all my passions: problem solving, furniture design and cats together into one product.

For more information visit www.akemitanaka.com


Walking

your cat By Cats International

While there is some concern that giving your cat a taste of the great outdoors will turn him into a demanding puss that sits by the door meowing incessantly to go out, many feline exper ts believe that the greater danger lies in providing a living environment

unchanging and unstimulating – just plain boring .

for the cat that is

The stress of boredom can be a contributing factor in a number of destructive behavioural problems, such as furniture scratching, as well as in some physical and psychological problems, such as obesity, over-grooming, and feline depression. While much can be done to make the home environment more interesting for the cat, nothing can compare to the excitement of the ever-changing outdoors. Of course, in most cases, allowing Kitty to roam outside freely would be irresponsible. Unsupervised, your cat faces the very real dangers of road traffic, irate neighbours, disease and other predatory animals. Leash training can add a new dimension to both of your lives. Cats look forward to their outings just as much as dogs enjoy their walks. If taken out at approximately the same time every day, Kitty will learn that this is the only time he

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“It’s always easiest to introduce new experiences to kittens, as they tend to view life as one big adventure.” can go out and there’s really no point in pestering the owner at other times. It’s always easiest to introduce new experiences to kittens, as they tend to view life as one big adventure. However, even older cats can be trained to accept a harness and leash if the owner is patient, persistent and sensitive to the cat’s body language. Each small step of progress toward the ultimate goal is rewarded with praise and food treats. At no time should the cat be punished or scolded. It may take weeks of conditioning for the adult cat to feel comfortable with this procedure, but the result is well worth the effort involved. Strong advocates for leash training your cat, Warren and Fay Eckstein, devote 15

pages to this subject in their wonderfully entertaining and instructive book, How to Get Your Cat to Do What You Want. (1) Here is a brief summary of the steps involved in training your cat to walk on a leash: Step 1. Purchase a harness that is designed to pull from the chest, not from the throat. A harness is preferable to a collar because, if properly fitted, it will provide less opportunity for Kitty to wriggle out of it. You should be able to slip two fingers between the harness and the cat. If it is too loose, the little escape artist will be out of it in no time. The leash should be lightweight and detachable, and have a clip that closes tightly. We do not recommend the ‘figure eight’ style


harnesses, as these can pinch Kitty and make the harness uncomfortable. Instead, the preferred design should be an ‘H-style’ design, with two independently adjustable loops connected by a third piece of material. SmartCat has a comfortable and easily adjustable harness. (2) Step 2. Let your cat get used to the harness and leash by leaving them near his favourite sleeping place for a few days. The training process begins in the home. Before placing the harness on the cat, prepare Kitty’s favourite meal – something so delectable that it makes him forget about everything else. Immediately after placing the harness on him, put the food in front of him. Praise him profusely. After he has finished eating, let him walk around for a while. Distract him with toys if he seems unhappy with the harness. After he has visibly relaxed, the harness can be removed. Step 3. Attach the leash to the harness. Don’t try to walk Kitty at this point, just let him walk where he pleases, dragging the leash behind him. Always supervise these sessions in case the leash gets caught on something. Most cats will accept the addition of the leash readily but if yours becomes agitated divert his attention, as before. Encourage Kitty to walk and, when he does, shower him with praise. Keep these daily training sessions short and positive.

Step 4. Once your cat is at ease with the harness and leash, pick up the leash and walk around the house behind him, being careful to keep the lead slack. At this point you do not want to restrict the cat’s movement, just let him get used to having you follow him. Practise this for a few days. Step 5. Now it’s time to teach Kitty to go where you want him to go. Using a sweet, high-pitched voice, encourage him to follow you. (Kittens have a natural follow-Mum response.) Don’t expect him to walk like a dog. Allow Kitty to wander from side to side within the confines of the length of the leash, but do not veer off your predetermined course. When the cat feels resistance, he will either walk in your direction or lie down. Patience and persuasion are the key words here. Never pull or jerk the lead to force your cat back in line. One bad experience may turn your cat against leash training forever. Step 6. Once Kitty is walking comfortably on the leash inside, you can introduce him to the outdoors. It may be best to simply sit with Kitty on the backstep outside for the first few jaunts. Let him become used to the sights and sounds of this new and somewhat scary world. You’ll know when Kitty has adapted to this new environment. He will look relaxed, his nervous tail twitching will stop, and he will

show an interest in exploring. Let him. Now find a quiet location that will present as few frightening elements as possible, and follow the same procedure you used to accustom Kitty to walking on a leash indoors. (Remember, never leave the cat outside unattended.) Now your feline friend can join you for walks around the neighbourhood, on picnics and even window-shopping. Trips away from home (such as going to the vet) will also be easier for you as well as less traumatic for your cat. References (1) Warren and Fay Eckstein, How to Get Your Cat to Do What You Want, Ballantine Books, 1996. (2) SmartCat – www.esmartcat.com/

Cats International is a non-profit, educational organisation that is dedicated to helping people better understand their feline companions. Website: www.catsinternational.org

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Boarding your cat By Ruth Lynch

the most common reason for using boarding facilities for your cat or cats is going on holidays , but there are many others as well.

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Reasons why people want or need to board their cat or cats include the following: n

n

Working overseas or interstate for a limited time is a common reason for boarding and anything from a few weeks to a couple of years is quite normal. Moving house is a good time to board your cat – a few days before the actual move (so they do not go missing on the day the removal trucks come) and a few days after (to give you time to unpack and settle) will ensure minimal stress for your cat.

n

Some people might choose to board their cat/s when friends or relatives come to visit/stay who are either allergic, or haven’t yet understood the magic of felines.

n

If you are planning a party it is sometimes a good idea to give your cat a weekend away at a nice, quiet boarding cattery. The intrusion of lots of people in their home, as well as the extra noise, can be a frightening experience – especially if the home is usually quiet and peaceful.

n

Renovating your home may take months and, sometimes, you may

“There are many and varied catteries, and it is a good idea to check out two or three before deciding to board your cat for the first time.” have to move out of your home and so does your cat. Even small renovations can be disturbing for cats with workmen coming and going as well as unusual loud noises. To be safe it is a good idea to send your little friend for a stay at a loving, caring boarding facility until the job is completed. n

Just having your carpet shampooed or steam cleaned sometimes means your cat prefers a boarding facility to being at home! If your cat is scared of the vacuum, then they will definitely be skittish with a steam cleaner! Or, having wooden floors stained – who wants nice little footprints on a lovely new floor?

Any of the times that are unsettling for our beautiful feline friends are reasons for people to put them into the temporary care of a boarding facility. This is because cats don’t like change! Most of them just want a quiet place to sleep in the sun and a loving person or family to give them all the attention and care they think they so rightly deserve!

Types of boarding faciliTies When you start looking for a boarding facility, you will find there is a great range as there’s everything from cages at your local vet or in someone’s garage, to bigger runs with indoor and outdoor sections. Some have grassed areas, some have air-conditioning, and some have piped classical music in the pens. (Yes, really.) It all depends on what you think is suitable for your cat. For example, our cattery at Sleepy Haven has lovely, large pens with individual indoor and outdoor areas. The cats love sitting on their garden chairs out in the sun during the day and being in their nice, cosy beds is a winner on the rainy, cold days and nights. There are many and varied catteries, and it is a good idea to check out two or three before deciding to board your cat for the first time. This not only allows you to compare the facilities, but it also means you will probably keep using the same facility in the future if your cat is happy with the service they receive on the first visit. Continuing to use the same cattery allows your cat to become familiar with it and,

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especially if you board them regularly, they will come to know the people as well as the cattery so treat it as a home away from home. This makes leaving them a lot easier and less stressful for you. Things To look for in a boarding caTTery n

It is important to be able to inspect any prospective facility – if inspection is not welcome, go somewhere else.

n

Cleanliness (of course).

n

Do the cats in the facility seem content or are they stressed? Those who are recent arrivals may look a little fearful but most of those who have been in residence for a few days should appear content.

n

Does the cattery insist on current vaccination certificates? It is vitally important that all cats are vaccinated against cat flu and feline enteritis if they are going to be boarded. This is both for your cat and other boarded cats’ protection.

Your cat is very special to you. They are a valued member of your family so it is only natural that you want the when you can’t be with best for them them yourself . . .

who are attending to them. Like people, cats have many different personalities and it will depend on your cat’s nature as to how long it will take them to settle into a new locality. Most cats settle within a day

“The most common advantages our customers tell us for boarding their cats are peace of mind for them and company for their cat while they are away.” n

Testimonials: If you know someone who uses a boarding facility speak to them to see what they think of a place you may be considering.

n

Most cat lovers prefer facilities that are ‘cat only’ facilities. It is often reported that cats staying in facilities that cater for dogs and cats become quite stressed from lots of dogs barking.

advanTages of boarding caTs in caTTeries The most common advantages our customers tell us for boarding their cats are peace of mind for them and company for their cat while they are away. If a cat is left at home for a neighbour or friend to feed they are often left by themselves for most of the time, except at dinner time. If the cat spends time outdoors there is also the risk of them disappearing once their family is not around, or being injured and no one noticing. It is not uncommon for a friend to put out food for the cat each day and not see the cat. They assume it’s okay because the food is disappearing, only to find when the owner returns that the cat has been injured or has disappeared and something else has been eating the food. seTTling in period Cats are territorial little creatures that love their own home environment so sometimes it takes them a few days to settle into a new place. They may stop eating for a day or so and tend to hide in their beds or growl at unfamiliar people

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or two with a little coaxing and extra attention from caring staff, but the time may be prolonged if the cat is very shy or frightened – these are usually the cats who disappear under the bed at home when visitors come! We also find that bringing along something familiar with smells of home can be helpful – a blanket, their own cat bed or small scratch pad, cushion etc but don’t take anything which you value too highly as they may get lost or damaged – definitely nothing breakable. Some catteries prefer you don’t take anything so make sure you check first. visiTors At times when cats are boarding for longer and indefinite periods of time we often have owners ask if it is unsettling for the cats to have visitors – either themselves or family members. I don’t know if there is any right or wrong answer to this question. We have never found it to be disruptive for owners to visit their cats. In fact at times it has actually helped the cat to be more settled, so I would not discourage visitors. oTher concerns of owners food: This is an important issue for many owners and all catteries are different so it is best to check what each cattery’s policy is on this matter. For example, we feed the cats twice a day and use fresh meat, tin and dry food, as well as allowing owners to bring their own food if they so desire. Transport services: Many catteries have a pick up and delivery service which can

be useful but it is a good idea to try and deliver your cat to the cattery yourself (especially on the first visit) if it is possible. This helps both you and your cat to settle. Time and attention given to cats: Once again this varies from cattery to cattery – some charge extra for ‘play time’. It is important that all cats are given some individual attention each day. Again this will vary as some cats would like the staff’s constant attention all day where others are content with a few minutes. Medications and vet services: Medications that are clearly labelled will be given by staff as requested, but once again check with individual catteries. Also check that if a vet is required, the cattery will have one they can call on 24/7, or in some cases they may contact your own vet. Your cat is very special to you. They are a member of the family so it is only natural that you want the best for them when you can’t be with them yourself, so we hope this article may be helpful. The main thing is that you feel comfortable with the staff who will be caring for your cat. This may mean you don’t always choose the most pristine and modern cattery but the one that has the most caring staff. Finding a suitable cattery is not so much different from finding a preschool for your child or a nursing home for your elderly relative – you want the best care. I once had a lady say to me that she spent more time checking out catteries for her cat to stay than she did her son’s room at his new boarding school! Is it any wonder those who haven’t been drawn into the marvellous world of cats, think we cat lovers are a little strange?!

ruth lynch sleepy haven cattery email: sleepyhaven@bigpond.com.au


AnnAngrove-DurAl

Sleepy HAven CAttery

Sleepy Haven Cattery is a family owned and run boarding cattery in “The Hills� district northwest of Sydney and set on 8 acres of scenic bushland. We invite you to come and inspect our boarding facilities in this lovely rural area.

Special features of our facilities include: n n

Very large pens - 4x2x2 metres with outside and inside areas All cats have individual runs - we only board cats from the same family in the same pen and all pens are large enough for families of cats

n n n n n

Pick up and delivery service Fussy eaters catered for Lots of TLC (tender loving care) Electric blankets in the cold months if requested On call veterinary service

Trading Hours: Mon-Fri 8am to 11am, 5pm to 6pm / Saturday 8am to 12 noon

Ruth and Gary Lynch 159 Annangrove Road, Annangrove NSW 2156 Phone (02) 9654 1448 Fax (02) 9654 1229 Email sleepyhaven@bigpond.com.au www.sleepyhaven.com.au


Showing Cats By Jenny Weekes Secretary, Queensland Feline Association Inc

A cat show is an event where the owners of cats compete to win titles by entering their cats to be judged against a breed standard.

Cat Show

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Both pedigreed and companion (or moggy) cats can compete at shows, but are not judged against each other. Pedigreed cats that are judged to be closest to their particular breed standard are awarded placings with points that accumulate towards gaining championship status. where dId It all start? The world’s first official cat show was staged at London’s Crystal Palace in July 1871. It was run by Harrison Weir, a noted cat lover who had written ‘Standards’ for the breeds against which they would be judged. Compared to today’s shows it was fairly basic, with cats grouped according to coat length, colour and conformation. As well as breeds such as Persian, British Shorthair, Russian and Siamese, domestic or moggie cats were shown along with exotic species including an Ocelot. The show attracted 170 exhibits and was so well attended by the public that long queues formed, making it difficult to view the cats. The success of this show led to subsequent shows and the formation of the British National Cat Club. what haPPens at a modern show? There are two main styles of cat show conducted in Australia, open and closed. In the closed format, which is rare nowadays, exhibitors and the public are excluded while judges consider the cats and award placings. After judging is completed, exhibitors and the general public are allowed in, and the exhibitors can see what placings their cats were awarded while the public can interact with the exhibitors and have a good look at the cats on exhibition. Open shows are much more interactive as the exhibitors and the public are allowed to watch the cats being judged. Judges talk briefly about the merits of each exhibit, as well as explaining the breed standard to let the audience know what they are looking for. Adult cats are awarded ‘Challenges’, which they can use to obtain titles such as ‘Champion’ and ‘Grand Campion’ etc. Each cat show consists of several judgings, called rings. Exhibits are broken up into Longhair and Shorthair sections. Adult cats, kittens and desexed adult cats are judged in separate classes. The cats are first considered against their own breed and then across the entire class with a Top 5 or Top 10 being awarded to the most competitive. The announcement of the Top 10 is the highlight of each ring, and excited exhibitors are often asked to hold up the top two or three exhibits while the judge announces the ‘Best in Show’. Is my cat elIgIble to be shown? Cats are broken down into registered pedigreed exhibits and companion cats. For you to be able to show your pedigreed cat, it needs to be registered in your name

with one of the feline registering bodies around Australia. Rules and regulations of these bodies differ as to whether you can show with one when registered with another, so you should check to make sure you are eligible to enter a particular show. Companion cats may or may not have to be registered. However, they generally need to be registered as a companion in order to gain titles. If you have a purebred cat and you don’t have the papers it can always be shown as a ‘Companion’. Is my cat good enough to show? Each breed of pedigreed cat is judged against a written standard that describes the cat in detail, including body and head shape, size, coat length, colour etc. If you expressed an interest in showing the cat when you purchased your kitten, the

If you choose to show a companion cat, it will be judged on temperament, condition, grooming and general overall appeal. PreParIng for a cat show Your preparation for showing your cat begins with filling in the entry form, known as a schedule. This can generally be downloaded from the feline body’s website or, once you are a regular exhibitor, may be emailed to you. For those who are not on the net, schedules for upcoming shows are usually available at the door of the previous show or you can ring up and have one mailed to you. You will need to make sure you have a few essentials before the show. Depending upon which organisation is running the show, cages will either be lined with plain white curtains and have a plain white base

“Each breed of pedigreed cat is judged against a written standard that describes the cat in detail . . .” breeder should have advised you whether or not it was show quality. If you purchased the kitten without an intention to show it, it’s good etiquette to check with the breeder. The cat carries the breeder’s prefix as part of its registration and there may well have been a good reason why it was sold as a pet rather than a show cat. It may have a colour or conformation fault that would make it unable to compete without in any way affecting its suitability as a pet. If the breeder is happy for you to show the cat, you should listen to the judges and take note of how the cat is placed on the day and, if you want a more detailed opinion, perhaps have a quiet word with one of the judges after the judging is completed.

(a towel or folded material) or they can be decorated as simply or as intricately as you like. Suitable curtains can be homemade or purchased at a show. You will also need to have a secure carry cage for transportation to and from the show. groomIng All cats, whether longhaired or shorthaired, should be groomed regularly, but special preparation is often done in the few days immediately prior to a show. A longhaired kitten should be bathed and groomed from an early age so that it becomes used to the routine and will actually learn to tolerate this without complaint. Specific grooming techniques vary from breed to breed, even from cat to cat.

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Your cat must have clean ears and eyes, be scrupulously clean, without staining and must never be shown with fleas or other parasites. Claws must be clipped – this is a show rule. Several people will handle your cat during the day and clipping the claws will minimise the potential for injury to handlers. Claws should be clipped one or two days before each show, as they grow very quickly. When you start out showing, talk to the breeders or other owners about how they prepare their cats. At a show, look at the cats on the show bench that attract the most comments for good grooming from the judges. The exhibitors may be able to give you a few tips on grooming of your breed of cat but don’t expect them to divulge their biggest secrets – after all, it is a competition. First and foremost, the cat show is a beauty contest and a badly groomed cat will be penalised in the show ring. It is not unusual to hear a judge comment, ‘This cat would have placed higher if it was better groomed’. Show day As you generally have to leave home early to get to the show, it is a good idea

to any last minute grooming. Make sure there are no knots in the coat and that the eyes and ears are clean. After a short time you will be advised when judging is about to commence. During judging, you should sit quietly, not identifying yourself as the owner of your cat and listen to the comments that the judges make. If you have

“When you start out showing, talk to the breeders or other owners about how they prepare their cats.” to be packed the night before. A special bag that everything can be packed in and that fits neatly under the show bench is useful. Show cages are either provided by the club running the show or, in some states, exhibitors provide their own cage or hire cages for the day. Below is a list of items that may be of some assistance: n show cage bases and curtains (bring a spare base or towel in case of accidents) n cooling or heating pads depending upon time of year n grooming equipment (towel, brush, comb, face cloth, baby wipes etc) n water bowl and dry food n small litter tray n a couple of plastic bags – one for disposal of soiled litter and one for carrying home wet/dirty cage furnishings. You must bring your cat to the show in a secure carry cage so that it cannot escape. At some shows all the cats undergo a veterinary inspection before the show. You may have to show vaccination certificates, and the vets will check the cat for signs of illness or parasites. For the comfort of your cat it is best not to feed it on the morning of the show. Once you have been advised of your cat’s cage number you should proceed to the designated cage or cage space and set your cat up for the day. At this stage you should offer the litter tray and attend

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purchased a show catalogue, you can record the results as they are announced. Your cat will be handled by a number of people during the day. Each judge has one or more stewards whose job it is to assist, sometimes by getting the cats in and out of the cages. Therefore it is important that your cat is used to being handled by as many people as possible. Between rings, there is sometimes an opportunity to return to your cat’s cage and attend to any grooming needs or to offer water. It is best to leave food until after all judging is complete. Between rings you will also need to remove any prizes or rosettes that your cat has won under a previous judge. At the end of the day your cat will need to stay until you are advised that the show is over so you are free to leave. Always remember not to leave rubbish, litter etc lying around and, if possible, offer to stay behind and help with the tidy up. GoinG to the Show aS an obServer If you have not entered the show, you cannot bring your cat along. Even if you don’t have a cat to show there are many benefits of attending a cat show as a member of the public. If you are thinking of buying a pedigreed cat, it is a great opportunity to look at a number of breeds you may be interested in. Talk to the breeders and exhibitors to learn more about different breeds of cat. You never know, you might see a breed of cat that

you had never considered or even heard of. You need to remember that the main purpose of the show is for the judges to assess the cats and to award the very best with prizes and Top 10/5 placings. As such, some of the areas may be out of bounds to the public while judging is underway. Usually there is an area that is open for viewing and, at the very worst, you may need to cool your heels with a cup of coffee. If you are considering showing a cat it is also a good idea to go along to see what goes on at the show so you can be better prepared for when you do show your cat. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most breeders and exhibitors all remember when they themselves started out and are only too willing to talk about their own experiences. As a cat lover, cat owner or potential exhibitor, there may be some retail stalls where you can spend your money. Although it varies from show to show, stalls may sell grooming products, cat toys, litter and litter trays, scratching posts, show curtains and some even have cat-themed clothing and accessories. In conclusion, cat shows are exciting events for breeders, exhibitors and cat lovers. It is a chance for breeders and exhibitors to have their cats assessed by experienced judges, with a view to improving the quality of the cats they produce. For the members of the public who attend the show, it is an opportunity to see a wide selection of the very best cats and kittens, groomed to perfection, and to talk to their owners about the joy of owning one of the most loveable of the animal kingdom.

Jenny weekes is Secretary, Queensland Feline association inc email: secretary@qfeline.com web: www.qfeline.com


What began as a catwalk in san Diego to allow our feline family to frolic overhead is now a worldwide environmental enrichment movement of cat lovers catering to ever y desire of their fur companions .

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where

this is our catwalk began .

“We wanted to visually separate our dining room from the living room. Our solution was to construct a floor-to-ceiling scratching post that would also provide support for a leaded-glass window.�

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Abyssinian Cat Club of Australasia Inc // The Specialist Club for Abyssinians and Somalis www.abyssinian.org.au or www.somali.org.au PO Box 31, Branxton NSW 2335

Do you have one of these? (amazing Abyssinians)

Or one of these? (stunning Somalis)

Want to know more about these special breeds? Want to share stories with fellow Aby & Somali lovers? The “Aby� Cat Club is here to help. Join us and n Receive two issues of our informative twice yearly Journal n Have opportunities to meet like-minded people and make friends n Advertise on our website and in the Journal For more information and membership forms, visit our website or contact our secretary (somali@internode.on.net)

CELEBRATING OVER 40 YEARS OF FUN AND FRIENDSHIP


someday , we 'll be able to say: "the cat's in the

mail"

(actually, mailbox).

“The plan is for catwalkers to pass through to an enclosed outdoor area for bird-watching, sunning, and travel on the latest in elevated walkways.�

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“The spiral staircase was designed to provide senior cats with safe access to the catwalk. Racing up floor-to-ceiling sisal columns is not for mature kitties.”

“Benjamin helped with the ramp design. He was first to demonstrate the need for carpeting. Without it, Benjamin would slide down the ramp, clawing for traction.”

“By making public our private space , we hope others will be encouraged to create a better existence for and their companions —both

animal

human ” .

To read the entire book, please go to www.thecatshouse.com © 2011 Bob Walker. All rights reserved.

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Play Therapy By Jackson Galaxy

as you pass innocently by a door way, your cat pounces fiercely on your ankle, gnawing and clawing until blood is drawn, and then bolting away under the bed.

Two littermates, now six years old, suddenly start fighting and can’t be in the same room together anymore. Perhaps your cat is vocalising so loudly at 4.00am that you seriously wish you had become a tropical fish nut somewhere along the line. Strange as it may seem, these unpleasant activities may have a common cause – and there is a common solution: regular, structured, interactive play, also called ‘play therapy’! So what does play have to do with it? Why do we have to interfere in activities that cats seem to occupy themselves with quite naturally? After all, a cat simply needs a plastic ring from a bottle, a piece of fuzz from the carpet, oftentimes something completely invisible to our eyes, and they’re off to the races! In reality, there are good reasons for us to ‘interfere’. Let’s start by looking at ourselves as humans. Doctors and psychologists constantly tell us that we need to ‘play’ more – however we define it. They urge us to exercise, not only to keep our bodies in shape but for the mental, stress-relieving benefits of physical exertion. And they harangue us to leave space in our lives for things other than work – have a picnic lunch in the park, do yoga, play softball and learn the piano etc – the options are endless. Without time for play, our physical and mental states are at risk.

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As children, we had recess time at school to vent the steam that built up from sitting still for so long. We ran around the playground or climbed the monkey bars, then came back inside and once again, sat still and tried to be good. However, as we became adults, we learned to suppress the need for recess, and to just live with the stress. This has not been good for us! During the breakneck speed of economic growth in the 80s in Japan, businesses were faced with a new fatal malady affecting their workers, which

can’t call a friend, write letters, rollerblade, or call their MP to complain! There are two important factors to consider: n The stressors that cats experience on a daily basis. n The outlets – how cats manifest (or hide) that stress. StreSSorS Territorial infringement Remember that territory is everything in the mind of a cat. If you have more than one cat, or a dog, or two or four children etc, or any other being that doesn’t

“Much of the stress in our modern lives arises from our feeling that we cannot control our environments . . . animals, too, feel much more stress when they are helpless to change the conditions . . .” coroners coined a name for, roughly translated to English, meaning ‘worked to death’. Much of the stress in our modern lives arises from our feeling that we cannot control our environments. Instead, we feel controlled by our boss, traffic, family obligations, or doctor’s orders. It has been shown scientifically that animals, too, feel much more stress when they are helpless to change the conditions of their lives. How can we expect anything else from our cats? Their stress sources are far less under their control than our own, and their stress outlets are much more limited – they

respect the territorial boundaries that your cat has set in their minds, this results in stress on your cat. In a multi-cat home, through a hierarchical system that we still don’t fully understand, cats typically develop a system of ‘time sharing’ or rotating favoured areas to increase their greater sense of space. But this is a line walked very delicately. Simply put, the more beings we squeeze into a space, the more psychological pressure is placed on the cat. When we urbanised as a culture and made our cats mostly indoors, we decreased their natural sense of territory by about 90 per cent. Now imagine


“According to cats, things must happen in roughly the same way, at the same time, every day. Surprises are not welcome!” adding another cat or dog or significant other into the mix. I’d call that stress! Disruption in routine The concept of ‘stable sameness’ is crucial within the larger framework of territory. According to cats, things must happen in roughly the same way, at the same time, every day. Surprises are not welcome! Whether it be feeding time, comings and goings of human family members, the sofa being in the same place this morning as it was last night (ever try a little furniture rearranging and not have the cats act like you’ve moved to the moon?) or the contents or contexts of their food and litter – routine is key. As you’ll soon see, the stress that disruptions in routine can bring can be wonderfully soothed with play therapy. The big zero That’s right, nothing can be a huge stressor. Sure, cats sleep between 12 and 16 hours, on average, daily. In reality, what we’re seeing is the resting phase of the wild dusk-to-dawn hunter lurking within our furry friends. Cats are like energetic balloons, filling with electricity as they rest. A hunter with no prey to stalk is like a kid without recess – bored, edgy, and looking for trouble!

Other miscellaneOus nuisances Some other highly bothersome problems to our felines include: n Remodelling or construction in the home, or workers such as plumbers or roofers invading their space and making unusual noise. n Neighbourhood cats. These can present a problem just by being seen through a window, but they really drive indoor cats nuts by spraying on the outside of the house or doors of the apartment. n Newborns and the highly unfamiliar sounds they make – let alone the attention they demand that suddenly is not going to the cat. All these contribute to the ‘static’ that routinely builds up in a cat’s body day after day. There doesn’t even have to be a significant episode like any of the ones I’ve mentioned. The causes can reside in these categories but be subtle, just little ‘straws’ of stress that build up over time. Two Outlets As you will see, outlets or manifestations of stress can range from the barely noticeable to the extreme.

• Internalised Stress Watch for the ‘filling of the energetic balloon’ as discussed above. Some symptoms that your cat is taking in more than they can handle are: 1. Displaced grooming: As opposed to the relaxed grooming that can take up to two or three hours of your cat’s day, this will look more like striding into a room, stopping mid-pace, and suddenly licking, almost purposefully, as if to get a flea off her body. This is a quick movement, and usually seen around the shoulder area. 2. ‘Back electricity’: For lack of a better term, it’s when you touch the cat and can see ripples of skin and muscle shoot down the length of his or her back. 3. tail twitch/wag: See a pattern emerging? This action is another attempt to release energy, anxiety, or – as a twitch graduates to a full wag – possibly a signal of pending aggression. 4. somaticising: A psychological term that implies converting emotional distress to bodily symptoms. This covers much of what we’ve discussed, but also implies stress as a factor in a wider spectrum of over-grooming and other obsessive-

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e thing!

the sam e r a y e r p d n a y To a cat, pla

compulsive disorders, vomiting, appetite disorders, litterbox avoidance and a number of chronic medical problems. • Externalised Stress More extroverted cats can (and probably will) act out their stress in one of the following ways: 1. Play aggression Yes, that’s why your ankles get bitten when you’re walking down the hallway or your feet get attacked while you’re sleeping. This is not true of all aggressive behaviour by any means, but think of the circumstances. To a cat, play and prey are the same thing! Just before the cat jumped on your ankle, she was, in her mind, lying in wait in the tall grass, waiting for her prey (which would be just ankle height), and WHAM! These actions are not spiteful, just misdirected. We will learn how to direct them, never fear. 2. Redirected aggression One way of letting off steam in a multi-cat home is to take it out on the other cats, especially if that is in the nature of the individual cat – one who tends to seek a battle rather than to hide and internalise. ‘Redirected’ means that the cat who got whacked just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – right in the way of the stressed cat’s

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“The first step toward establishing a difference between casually playing with your cat and ‘play therapy’ is routine.” explosion. Once an incident like this occurs, it can take a long time to normalise relations again. Stress is not usually the major cause of redirected aggression, but heightened stress levels most certainly can help precipitate an event. 3. The usual suspects Stress plays a part in many litterbox problems, scratching furniture, and middle-of-the-night vocalising. The idea to underscore here is that it plays a part. These are all help topics within themselves, and all have many sources of causation. Stress alone doesn’t often cause these problems to continue but it is usually a contributor. Recess Time – leT’s Play! The first step toward establishing a difference between casually playing with your cat and ‘play therapy’ is routine. As I’ve highlighted, your cat likes things to happen in a structured, daily manner. The idea is to observe their energy patterns. Most likely, they will mirror that of the family’s. When the family’s activity level is on the go, the cat’s will probably be too. Dinnertime seems, from my experience, to be a “gimme” time for cat attention, as does bedtime. Anticipating play about a

half hour before bed is a great idea, because it will help you get a better night’s sleep, if you are getting your toes attacked at 4.00am or are victim to some other type of attention-getting night-todawn activity. Once you’ve established a routine, it’s imperative to stick to it. In time, your cat will look forward to that specific time of day, just as a child looks forward to the recess bell. Next, let’s establish the best type of toy for play therapy. Basically, toys fall into two categories: 1. Remote toys: This is any toy that can be thrown, played fetch with, and usually disappears under the couch or refrigerator only to reappear during next year’s spring cleaning. Examples are sparkle balls, crinkle balls, furry mice and those odd geometric rubber balls. All are great for other purposes, but not for what we’re trying to accomplish. 2. interactive toys: Anything connected to you will keep your cat’s interest for exponentially longer periods of time than remote toys. Some examples of fine interactive toys are Cat Dancers, Cat Charmers or imaginative ones that you can make at home using a stick and string – a toy


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attached to a piece of string at the end of stick. For our purposes, I’m going to suggest a specific toy that I’ve used successfully with hundreds of cats, many of whose owners swore, ‘My cat just doesn’t like to play’. It’s called ‘Da Bird’. It’s a fishing pole toy with a unique feather configuration at the end of it. What makes it so great is that, when you swing it through the air, the feathers flutter and make the sound of flapping wings. You just can’t get better than that when trying to tap into a cat’s play/prey nerve centre. Be the Bird! Now, it’s time for some role-playing on your part. It’s not enough to dangle the toy while watching TV. That won’t generate the desired playtime rapture from your feline buddy. You have to be the bird! When you wave the toy through the air, imagine what’s going on in your cat’s mind. If you’ve seen cats perch in the window watching birds in trees for hours on

away. You’ll probably also get to see a wider range of your cat’s hunting postures, such as the dilated pupils hiding under a table, the ‘head bob’ as they size up the exact dimensions of their kill and the famous ‘butt wiggle’ right before the pounce. These are innate gestures that let you know you are on the right track; you’re playing your role like an avian Hamlet. As you, the bird, become less able to fly, seek refuge more on the ground, trying to sneak off behind a couch, around a corner or into other sheltered areas. This is when your cat will usually go in for the kill. You’re aiming for the all-four-paw-wraparound with back paws kicking and teeth biting. Put up a mild struggle but at the same time encourage your cat’s success. This whole routine can be repeated, of course, ad infinitum, until the cat is finished. But watch out for the ‘second wind!’. Just when you think the game should be over and your cat is lying on their side lazily

“Stress can be lowered in both species by making space in the day for a little ‘pussyfooting’.” end, you know their patient hunting capabilities. Let the cat follow the pattern of flight around the room long enough to get completely involved in it. You’ll see wide-eyed, rapt attention, tensing muscles and maybe a twitch at the end of the tail. Talking to the cat in a light praising tone, asking ‘What is that?’ or encouraging the cat to go after the toy, always helps to arouse the curiosity. Now it’s time to make the mistake that all bird victims eventually make, and that is swooping too low, just low enough for the cat to make a grab. This is a crucial part of the game, because if this were truly a hunt, the bird would play dead, and the cat might go through a series of actions. Difficult as this is to describe in writing, it’s important to play dead, yet not let the slack completely go in the string connecting the wand and the feathers. Allowing the string to dangle may distract the cat to watch the string and not the prey. Don’t be fooled by wily feline hunting techniques; often they will walk away or seem disinterested at this point, but that is merely how cats test the ‘deadness’ of their prey. Wait a few seconds then start to slowly wriggle the feathers. That should get your friend’s attention, and if the cat doesn’t pounce in time, then off you go again, flying around the room. Sometimes the cat will pick the prey up in her mouth and start to walk away. Allow this and follow her; she won’t go far. And, as the bird, keep watching for your chance to ‘escape’ again. Remember that in your role as the bird, every time the cat lays a paw on you, it does injure you to some degree, so each ‘capture’ should affect how fast you get

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batting or altogether ignoring the toy, the second you go to put it away, they may suddenly pop up for another round. By all means, indulge them! Play therapy can be highly successful in multi-cat households. Depending on the personalities involved, cats can be worked with individually or in groups. If you’re doing ‘group therapy’, make sure that everyone gets a chance to make a catch and a kill. Some cats are more inclined to watch than participate, but make sure even the-standers get to take a swat by swinging the toy in their direction now and then. the CoUp d’GraS The final step in recreating a play/prey session is eating! Not full meals, of course, but choose a high protein wet food snack. Kitten food or even a meat baby food would do just fine. This completes the natural cycle of hunt-kill-eat. It’s important, once the session is over, that you put away the special play therapy toy somewhere that your cat can’t have access to it. Eventually, you’ll see a sort of conditioned response to the toy coming out. In other words, your cat will hear the sound of the fishing pole coming out of the closet and make the immediate association between it and the venting of energies, the constant praise and connected time with you and the tasty teat that follows. Of course, there are many variables in play routines. Cats are individuals and dependent on their experience to a degree; they will approach this encounter in different ways. The general idea remains consistent, however, and that is to wear them out, not just aerobically but in their

minds – the primal hunter nature. A few of these variables include: n the ‘my cat doesn’t play’ syndrome. This is seen most often in sedentary, obese, or elderly cats. Play, however, doesn’t always appear exactly the way I’ve outlined it. Showing interest, batting a paw at the feathers, or just getting up and following it around for a few minutes is a great start. You’ll most likely see more and more interest and action as time goes by. Any activity is far better than none. n the length of a given session. The average time reported by my clients is approximately 15–20 minutes per session. There are some cats that can go for 45 minutes and never lose interest for a millisecond, or five minutes can work. It is optimal to have two sessions a day. Some Final thoUGhtS: n remember the power of praise! Just as I mentioned that connecting on a physical level via the fishing pole increases the cat’s attention span in the game, so does your constant praising—staying in the game not just with your body but with your voice as well. It’s a deep misconception, I believe, that cats don’t seek at least some approval from us. n making time in our busy lives. We all have jobs, school, families and stresses of our own without trying to make time to schedule play sessions with our cats twice a day. However, the benefits are immediate and innumerable to both cat and human. Stress can be lowered in both species by making space in the day for a little ‘pussyfooting’. By sticking with the program, and remembering that getting a cat to accept and follow a new behavioural routine will take an average of 12–16 weeks, many problem behaviours will diminish greatly over that time, especially those associated with the play/prey drive. Ankle biting, timidity, nervous irritability, sneak attacks on your feet while sleeping, and many others will decrease. Last and certainly not least, the bond between you and your pet will be deepened in a new way, and that’s something that’s worth the effort!

Jackson Galaxy, Cat Behaviour Consultant, works in the United States Find out more at: www.jacksongalaxy.com www.littlebigcat.com


Herbert the Sea Cat

By Jane Campbell

Who would have thought that a middle-aged Ragdoll – who is ver y much a homebody , dislikes sudden noises and movements, and positively hates water – would take to the high seas with such gusto ? It is cer tainly a huge relief to this amazed pet owner.

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Eleven years ago we decided to buy our then ten-year-old daughter a cat. After dithering about what type of cat we should have (rescue, pet shop or breeder), we decided to get one that was purebred. Before going on, I must confess that we were ‘dog people’, with our third child being a labrador. This factor was a huge influence on the breed of cat we chose. Previous cats Our earlier pets had included a stray kitten, Wilbur, who was a grey and white moggie who lived until she – yes, she – was 14. While Wilbur was lovely, we found her to be too ‘catlike’ for us. Having an independent nature, she was not fussed with lots of patting and attention, despite our concerted efforts from when she came into our care at the far-too-young-an-age of six weeks. Why a cat? I wanted to get our daughter Ali a pet so that she could care and look after a living thing that didn’t involve too much maintenance – such as daily walks. Apart from our ‘RSPCA-special’, a black lab/ staffy cross who had died about eight years previously, and our current gold Labrador who was seven (called Ella), we’d had the usual gamut of pets: rabbits, mice, chickens, guinea pigs, goldfish etc. However, unlike cats and dogs (and rats,

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“The books and breeders were right! Herbert was indeed a relaxed cat who loved being with people” for that matter) they were not completely satisfying pets to have. Wilbur had also taught me that if we were going to have another cat, I wanted one that was not going to be too independent. After researching and discussing cats with people who had experience in these matters, we finally decided that a Ragdoll was the breed for us. We heard that they were ‘big and boofy’ and they had some dog-like characteristics in that they liked to trail around after the owner, they were extremely affectionate, loyal and laidback. A definite bonus was that they didn’t bark or need exercise. Perfect! Whose cat? At the beginning of January 2000 we took Ali on a surprise trip. We said we were going for a drive so that she could choose her birthday present (her birthday being in January). We also explained that her present came in different colours and, no, it was too tricky to wrap – she would have to see it straight away. With tears and smiles of delight Ali chose a blue-mittened boy from the seemingly dozens of kittens. The kitten Ali chose was still too young to leave home. We had to

wait until he was 14 weeks old so that he was fully weaned, vaccinated, microchipped and desexed. Yes! This seemed eminently sensible and professional to me. NamiNg the cat What else could you call a gorgeous, blue-eyed, long-haired white cat with grey markings anything other than Herbert? This was the name Ali chose and, as he was her cat, Herbert he became. herbert’s characteristics The books and breeders were right! Herbert was indeed a relaxed cat who loved being with people – or most people – as well as snuggling up with Ella, our lab. Ali was not one of his favourites, however, as she liked to play with him (ie. annoy him) as well as wake him when he was trying to sleep. As I worked from home, he’d snooze on my lap when I sat at my computer. As with most kids, I suspect, Ali was not terribly good at feeding him or cleaning out his litter tray. Rather than continually nagging her I most likely made the wrong decision by taking on these tasks – they weren’t hard. However, it did mean that Herbert was far more content in my company than with Ali’s.


Ten years laTer Herbert is very much part of the family. Unlike our two daughters, however, he much prefers to stay at home. Our girls at 24 and 21 have both left – one having a year off from uni to live in Berlin while the other is living in a flat in Coogee (in our home town of Sydney) and working. Meanwhile, partly because the girls have moved out and partly because our dog had to be put down when she was 14, Brett and I decided to leave home as well. We own a very comfortable two-bedroom, two-bathroom (or cabins and heads, as Brett unsuccessfully tells me to call them) 43’ yacht. The sun and warmth were calling, so we prepared to sail from Sydney to The Whitsundays over a five-month (plus) period. But what to do with Herbert? I would as soon give away one of my girls as I would him. landlubber caT I knew that Herbert loved his home and that he really didn’t like going to strange places – for an understatement. He disliked, intensely, other cats so hated being boarded at the vet or cattery. He also cried (yowled) when we tried to leave him with friends, which drove them crazy. Our first plan was to gently ease him into boat life. We put him on our boat (called Amble) when it was still on the mooring, so that he could potter around with us onboard to get used to the different spaces, movements, smells etc. We failed. As he hates water, sudden movements and new sounds etc, he was miserable. He hid under the pillow in the front bedroom in a raggy heap. This was even before the boat was underway. Every time I picked him up for a hug, he would start shaking, climb out of my arms and head back under the pillow. Not a good start. As he was so unhappy and probably very stressed, I decided to try another tack. Plan two. Technically, as Herbert is Ali’s cat, we decided to try leaving him with her. Ali was delighted and we all thought Herbert might settle in. After all, her bedroom looked the same in her flat in Coogee as it did at home. You couldn’t see the floor for clothes, and we had moved all of her bedroom furniture over there. We thought the sights and smells would be familiar and comforting. We gave Herbert a few test runs with Ali. We’d take him with us while we stayed a short time, gradually lengthening each visit. When he seemed happy staying for two or three days at a time, Brett and I went on a three-week sailing holiday to Turkey. Although we had a great time while we were away, Herbert did not. Ali ended up taking him to the vet as he had started banging his head against a wall. He was also shaking uncontrollably and he had

Until, of course, we turned the next leg of our adventur on the engine to start Herbert dived. Then the bo e. Under the pillow over some waves, creaked anat tipped slightly, bounced non-house-like-manner. A d generally moved in a Not a happy cat. However, s for the anchor noises . . . his pillow) and, phew, not he was very placid (under seasick.

stopped eating. While Ali was terrified at the thought of him having a brain tumour, it turned out that he had ‘grief and depression’. He was missing me. (What a sensible cat.) Although it was awful news, Ali was relieved (and offended!). It also solved the ‘What-to-do-with-Herbert’ issue. He was coming with us on our trip north. Gulp. leaving land Brett, Herbert and I left Sydney on the June long weekend in 2011. Brett and some of his mad but lovely sailing mates generously undertook the first stage of our trip by sailing the boat nonstop from Sydney to Coffs Harbour. Herbert and I flew. Now this was a successful plan. For me! If I had been onboard, we wouldn’t have left either Sydney or land as an east coast low hit the coast that weekend. After setting off in the sun and gentle breeze, the fellows sailed into gale-force winds, big seas and swell, and driving rain. This lasted for almost the entire trip (despite the weather forecast). Although they were seasoned sailors, they were all seasick and exhausted – with their skin in varying shades of white to green when they finally arrived (about 40 hours later) at Coffs Harbour. Herbert and I found it bumpy enough on our 90-minute flight from Sydney to Coffs! He was not impressed in his travel cage but, true to breed, he just flopped on the floor of it and didn’t say a word – at least, when I was with him. He did attract a lot of attention as he rolled out on the luggage carousel, looking both innocent and curious, at Coffs airport. Once onboard Amble, I let Herbert out of his cage whereupon he immediately dashed off to hide under the pillow. My main consolation was that I knew he’d be just as unhappy back in Sydney. Oddly enough, the initial bad weather was quite helpful as it ensured that we stayed snug and safe at the marina. Although it rained for the entire week and the wind was howling, it gave Herbert the time to peer out from under the pillow, then to start exploring the bedroom, lounge room, kitchen . . . and then the great outdoors of the cockpit. He was starting to relax.

HerberT THe sea caT As it turns out, Herbert is a natural! Much to my relief, he is really content and has taken to sailing life. By the second night of sailing he was out in the cockpit with us, sniffing the night air. He seems to like walking around the boat (promenading) when the boat is at anchor, moored or berthed. He loves sitting on the transom (back step) that is just above the waterline – yes, water – as he watches things move below him. His eyes and ears even follow the sunlight as it glitters on the water. He is alert and intrigued. When, of course, he is awake. This sea life is exhausting – we sometimes have to leave early in the morning in order to meet the tides over the bars going into ports. Plus the spray, wind, rolling and tipping, and sun take it out of a cat. Herbert’s eating more than he used to. He’s doubled, seriously, his intake of wet food but significantly reduced his intake of dry. When I asked a vet about this (Melissa Catt, from The Paddington Cat Hospital, see her article on p4) she thought it might be because dry food contains more salt. He’s getting enough as it is from grooming his coat, and perhaps his body seems to know. In addition, Herbert is sleeping well. It’s Brett and I who wake him in the morning, rather than the other way around. Generally, he just looks very content. And big! He’s telescoped. (He looks very small when he’s frightened or miserable.) Gone are the days of hiding under the pillow – I hope. As for me, it makes our trip even better. I don’t have to worry or wonder how he’s getting on with my daughter etc. He is great company and he certainly makes the boat more ‘homey’, right down to white and grey cat hairs over everything. So far, things are working out really well. Herbert is indeed a sea cat. I don’t know how he managed living on land for the previous 10.5 years! I wonder if Australia’s entrant in the America’s Cup needs a large, hairy – and very cute – mascot?

For more news about Herbert the sea cat, visit www.sailblogs.com (search for ‘amble’)

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Travelling with cats By Feline Advisory Bureau

Most

happy travellers. they are usually bonded strongly to their own territor y so feel ver y vulnerable off home ground. cats are

not

par ticularly

The rewards of staying with the family ‘pack’ or the potential of exploring or walking somewhere new at the end of the journey do not excite the average feline in the same way as its canine cousins. If you wish to take your cat on a train/ car or air journey, you will have to ensure it is safely and comfortably secured in an appropriate carrier and is kept confined at the end of the journey, at least until it has become bonded to the new territory. Of course, you get the occasional cat that travels frequently with its owner and does not panic or run off in a new environment. However, these are few and far between. Travelling by car It can be very dangerous to have a cat loose in the car. Not only could it cause an accident by becoming entangled with the driver, but also if a window or door was opened or an accident occurred, the cat could escape and become lost. You will need to invest in a carrier that is strong and easy to clean should the cat urinate, defecate or become sick during the journey. There is a wide range to choose from: wicker, solid plastic, fibreglass, plasticcoated wire mesh etc. It is best to avoid cardboard or very cheap, light plastic boxes that are suitable for short journeys or very temporary confinement. They would not be strong enough for longer periods, especially if they became wet.

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Make sure you consider the weather you will be travelling in – both your present situation and the likely temperature of your destination. If it is likely to be very hot then use a basket that allows a good flow of air. If it is going to be cold then a carrier that can provide draft-free warmth while still allowing good airflow would be useful. If your car journey is going to lead to another type of travel, for example, a plane, then you need to find out the

may be better to line the carrier well with newspaper and absorbent cloth in case an accident happens, and take some spare familiar smelling bedding if you need to replace it. When placing your caT in The car Put the carrier where it will be secure if you have to brake suddenly, but where it has a good airflow (ie not underneath lots of other luggage in the back of the car). Do not put the cat in the boot, and

“Cats quite like to sit in a small space and are unlikely to move around a great deal.” type of carrier that the airline prefers or demands (see later). If you have a large metal pen (such as those used for dogs when in the back of the car) then you may wish to put your cat in this, however, do bear in mind that larger is not necessarily better when it comes to the cat feeling safe and secure. Cats quite like to sit in a small space and are unlikely to move around a great deal. If you are using a larger crate that fits in the back of the car you will still need a small carrier that can be carried to and from the car to keep the cat safe at either end of the journey. If you are using a large crate you may be able to provide the cat with a litter tray although it is unlikely that it will actually use it during the journey. It

do take care with the rear of hatchbacks – ventilation may be poor and the cat may overheat. You can secure the carrier behind one of the front seats or use the seat belt to make sure it is held securely on the seat. The cat may meow initially or even throughout the whole journey. Speak calmly and reassuringly to it but resist letting it out of its carrier. The noise will probably drive you mad but the cat is unlikely to be suffering – it’s just voicing its dislike of the situation! Eventually the constant motion and noise of the car will probably induce it to sleep or at least to settle down. Check the cat regularly, especially if the weather is hot – don’t underestimate how rapidly the


“Do not let the cat go outside for at least a week [after arriving at your destination] and make sure it is identifiable if lost.” temperature inside a car can rise. Bear this in mind if you stop for a refreshment break and leave the cat in the car. Put the car in the shade and leave windows open. If it is very hot take a picnic and eat it nearby, with the cat secure in its carrier outside the car or with all the doors open. Heat stroke can be a killer. Travelling by Train Obviously if you are travelling by train you will need a very secure carrier that the cat cannot possibly escape from, but one which is also light enough to carry. You may want one with a solid base in case the cat urinates, so that it does not soil the railway carriage. Line it with absorbent paper and material and take spare bedding. Depending on the type of train and the space available, you will probably be able to keep the cat in its carrier on your lap. Travelling by air If you intend to travel by plane with your cat then you need to plan well ahead. You may have a choice of airlines, and how they can transport your cat may influence your choice. Most airlines do not allow cats to travel with their owners and have to travel in a special part of the hold that is heated and pressurised.

Some useful tips include: n Most cats do travel well on planes but it is not recommended to send a pregnant cat or kittens under three months old. n Not all flights are licensed to carry animals so the cat may have to travel on a different flight to you. n If possible get the cat onto a direct flight so that there is no need for the cat to be disturbed by transferring to another flight. It also prevents any problems associated with waiting around in a very hot or cold country. This may also affect the timing of the flight you choose. n The International Air Transport Association Standards say a container must be large enough for the cat to be able to stand up in and turn around with ease – check with individual airlines on what they need. Using The carrier For cats, purchasing a carrier usually means a trip to the veterinary surgery, so they are often not too keen to get into it! Take time to let the cat become accustomed to the carrier or travel crate well before the journey. Make it a pleasant

place to be – feed the cat treats inside it and make a cosy bed of familiar smelling bedding that can be used on the journey. Leave the door open and encourage the cat to go in and out and to sleep in it. Then, when it comes to the actual journey, the cat is at least familiar with its immediate environment. If you have more than one cat it is better to give them separate carriers as this allows for the better flow through of air, more room and less chance of overheating. Even the best of friends may become stressed during a journey so behave in an uncharacteristic way, such as becoming agitated with each other. Separate carriers will prevent any injury. If they can at least see and hear each other that may comfort them. Withhold food for about four to five hours before the journey in case the cat is sick while travelling. Offer water up to the time you leave and again during the journey, if possible. You can buy bowls that attach to cages so they are not spilled by the cat during the journey, and are easy to fill without opening the cage should there be a delay during the journey. arriving aT yoUr desTinaTion When you arrive, place the cat in one room and make sure it is secure, comfortable and cannot escape. Offer water and a little food although it may not be interested in eating until it settles in a little more. Do not let the cat go outside for at least a week and make sure it is identifiable if lost. Withhold food for about 12 hours so that the cat is hungry and comes back to you for food when you call. Gradually let it explore further and use food to ensure it does not go too far and returns for regular meals. Use of sedaTives If you know your cat is a bad traveller and has previously been sick on a journey, it is worth talking to your vet about giving it a tranquilliser. However, some cats actually become more agitated with tranquillisers so it may be worth testing this out before the actual journey. If the cat is going into the hold of an airplane, tranquillisers may not be recommended as drugs can alter the way cats adjust to temperature changes. Cats may also recover from the journey more quickly if not sedated.

The Feline Advisory Bureau is the leading charity dedicated to promoting the health and welfare of cats through improved feline knowledge, to help us all care better for our cats. Contact: www.fabcats.org © This information sheet is produced by the Feline Advisory Bureau

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for many cats

life is tough... Cats are seen as survivors but frequently the reality is painfully different. Cats suffer because feline welfare is often not a priority and in many places adequate veterinary resources are not available.

The International Fund for Cat Welfare is in a unique position to make a difference. Set up as a new charitable fund by the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM), its mission is to: bring together and share skills, knowledge, resources and enthusiasm to tackle issues of cat welfare worldwide. IFCW is striving to: ❉ Improve welfare of cats, owned and unowned ❉ Improve veterinary care of all cats ❉ Improve humane control of feral cats ❉ Improve prospects for rescue cats

At the heart of feline welfare If our aims are close to your heart and you would like to help, please consider supporting IFCW by making a donation or leaving a legacy. Your contribution will be invaluable in helping us make that difference. To find out more visit:

www.ifcw.net IFCW is a charitable fund set up by ISFM, the veterinary division of the Feline Advisory Bureau The Feline Advisory Bureau is a charity (no.1117342) and a company (no. 6002684) registered in England and Wales


the value of By Victoria Spence

Ceremony

the death of our pets is fast becoming recognised as a significant loss, and that the grief and bereavement that follows is a deep and complex process. There is a no ‘one size fits all’ response to death and loss. There are many choices to be made depending upon how your pet has died and your own circumstances. Many people choose to hold a ceremony – from a simple and personal ceremony between intimate family members and friends, to bigger, more celebratory occasions that involve a wider circle of friends and, in the case of dogs especially, their friends from the neighbourhood and park. A ceremony, however simple, is a time to combine words, music and actions that give everyone gathered some space to share their own experiences of your pet, to acknowledge their death and to celebrate their life.

It may seem, for some, a bit of a fuss, but for others it is a way to express just how much their pet was a central part of their lives, and to be able to create a time where the bonds of family and friends are strengthened. Have the ceremony in a place that you are comfortable – at home or in the park where you spent time. A special place you can return to and are able to shed a tear. Tell the neighbours and other friends of your pet’s death if you feel this will support you in sharing and validating the intense feelings of loss you are feeling. Alternatively, you can make cards and drop them in letterboxes or send an email out informing friends and family of your pet’s death, inviting them to the ceremony

or asking them to contribute stories and any pictures they have. You can compile these into a book of your pet – this is a great exercise to do with children and it remains as a treasured memento.

For more information about this topic by Victoria Spence, Dr Katrina Warren and others go to: www.ourwonderfulpets.com To follow Dr Katrina Warren on Facebook see, ‘Toby The Wonderdog’.

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Cat

cats truly have an exceptional sense of balance – they can wander along high fences only centimetres wide, seemingly without fear . They also walk along rooftops and sit on fence posts to survey their kingdoms. True tightrope walking acts! The ability of cats to balance so well is the result of the fine-tuned co-ordination of their physical and nervous systems. The cat’s supple body allows it to move smoothly, and its adapted shoulder blades and collarbones mean that it places its feet directly in front of each other as it walks. Walking along narrow ledges thus requires no special movement. Its tail can be used as a tightrope expert would use a pole, to balance and counterbalance. Vestibular apparatus Crucially, it is the feline organ of balance, the vestibular apparatus that gives a cat its excellent balancing skills. This is part of the inner ear and consists of three

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fluid-filled semicircular canals lined with millions of tiny hairs. Movements of the cat’s head cause the fluid to move around in these canals, moving the hairs and sending signals to the brain telling the cat about the direction and speed of where it is going. Although most mammals have this system, the cat has refined it to allow very accurate control of its head position. The information that is generated in the vestibular system is combined with that coming from the eyes and muscles to control the whole body, allowing it to maintain a fluidity of balance without effort. twist and fall One of the cat’s unique characteristics is its ability to land on its feet after a fall, by turning around in midair and landing safely on all fours – providing that the fall is not

too great! As a cat falls, it enters into an automatic sequence of events that allow it to flip over. In less than a tenth of a second, information from its eyes and vestibular system set into sequence automatic movements that first turn the cat so that its head is horizontal and upright, then bring its body around. Nerves in the spine cause the back end of the body to turn around. Then the tail acts as a counterbalance to prevent over-rotation and, by arching its back to absorb some of the shock of hitting the ground, the cat usually lands successfully and without injury.

First published on the ‘Your Cat’ website: www.yourcat.co.uk


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Cats

By Fiona Mangan, President Rita Bruche, committee member The Abyssinian Cat Club of Australasia Inc

on show

if you love cats there may be no better hobby than one you can share with your furr y companions.

Cat shows are a great way to: n socialise with other people who adore cats n have your cat evaluated by trained judges n potentially gain titles for your cat n learn more about cats and how to care for them. In Australia, the Cat Fancy operates via several interactive tiers. At the national level there are a number of organisations, the major two being the Co-ordinating Cat Council of Australia (CCCA) and the Australian Cat Federation Inc (ACF). Each of these umbrella recommendatory organisations works towards an Australiawide unification of policies associated with areas such as showing pedigree and non-pedigree cats, breeding pedigree cats, show rules, breed standards and the accreditation of judges, to name just a few. Within each Australian state or territory there are one or more feline registering bodies affiliated with one of the national organisations. A list of these affiliates and their contact details can be found on the CCCA and ACF websites. Both the state and national bodies have their own sets of rules and regulations, codes of ethics and objectives that, in essence, are quite similar. Some of the primary functions of the state-based affiliates are involved with maintaining registrations of cats and

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kittens, titles and title updates, breeders’ prefixes, training judges, training stewards and other show workers, promotion of responsible cat ownership and welfare of cats. The size of the state affiliates is varied, with the largest being NSW Cat Fanciers’ Association, a CCCA affiliate that processes in excess of 3,000 individual registrations each year1. Each of the state registering bodies has a number of affiliated cat clubs that can cater for all breeds, group or specialist fanciers. These local cat clubs run, usually on an annual basis, nearly all cat shows. Other cat shows may be conducted by the state or national bodies, or be conducted as part of Agricultural Society Shows, such as the various state capital ‘Royals’. So you want to go to a cat Show! State-based bodies have their own sets of show rules and regulations, which may vary from each other, and they may use different terminology. If you have purchased a pedigree kitten, ask the breeder if it is suitable for showing. Being ‘suitable’ means that the kitten does not have any faults according to the breed standard. Whilst the majority of cats and kittens entered in a show are pedigree, other cats and kittens are also eligible. These are often called ‘companions cats and kittens’

or ‘companion’. Pedigree cats and kittens can be entire or desexed to compete in a show. All companion exhibits must be desexed and they do not compete against the pedigree sections. A companion may be a moggie (domestic), part-pedigree or pedigree look-alike. For the purpose of judging, cat breeds and companions are organised into a number of groups. These are: n Group 1: The longhaired cats and their associated breeds, for example, Persians, Exotics, Maine Coon, Birmans and Ragdolls. n Group 2: Siamese, Foreign White and Oriental type cats, both in shorthair and semi-longhair coat lengths. n The remaining types of pedigree cats tend to be in the largest section, Group 3. This includes Abyssinian, Somali, Burmese, Cornish Rex, Selkirk Rex, British Shorthair and Scottish Fold, just to name a few. n Some state registering bodies divide Group 3 by placing pedigree cats such as the British Shorthair and Scottish Fold into Group 4. n Companions may be Group 4 in some other affiliates, or they may have their own separate Companions section.


PreParation for showing your cat Schedules for shows come out approximately two months before a show date. You can contact your state registering body to find out when the shows are on. A pedigree cat will need to be registered with your state registering body and have registration details added to the entry. You can ask the breeder to help with this. Companions, in some registering bodies, are not registered but instead have their coat type, colour and pattern entered. The secretary of the club can be contacted to assist if you are not sure how to fill out your form. Send in the entry form with the entry fee, get your cat ready, and be there bright and early on show day. Obtain a copy of the show rules when you get your entry form. You will also need some basic supplies. Aside from basic grooming tools, you will need some curtains and drapes for your cat’s cage. Different states have different rules, and the cages are different sizes. Some states allow coloured curtains, where others only permit plain white. However, all cats need at least a cushion or pad to be comfortable. You will also need a litter tray with a lid for your cat to use if needed. Many people use five-litre freezer containers, as these are a convenient size for travelling.

“A last-minute polish with a lamb’s wool mitt or piece of silk before judging gives the final finish.” PreParing your cat While the preparation of your cat will depend on the breed and type, there are some common expectations of a show cat. All cats must be in top physical condition and free of parasites. To start with, cats need a very highquality nutritious diet to promote overall good health. Of course, all cats must be spotlessly clean. Extensive grooming is not generally allowed in the show hall so the major preparation must be done beforehand. Ensure all cats are well combed and that all dead hair is removed from the coat. Ears and eyes must be clean. Special lotions and wipes can be bought from a pet shop or vet, or simply a cotton wipe with warm water. Do not use harsh alcohol or cotton buds to clean the ears. Shorthaired cats may seem like they don’t need grooming, but this is not the case. They need to have a fabulous shine on their coats, with no loose or dead hair falling out. For shorthaired cats, such as the Abyssinian, daily brushing with a bristle brush will achieve this. A last-minute polish with a lamb’s wool mitt or piece of silk before judging gives the final finish.

Should your cat become dirty, you may need to give them a bath. In this case, shampoo several days before the show to allow the coat to regenerate the natural oils, so the coat sits correctly. Longer-haired cats, such as the semi-longhaired Somali, usually need a bath before a show. It may be necessary to experiment before the event so that you know which shampoo regimen suits the breed and your cat in particular. Some cats require several stages, including degreasing, shampooing and conditioning. However, for others this may not achieve the best results. Dry your cat with a hairdryer if they are used to this – they can be trained as kittens. Otherwise a fan heater is a good idea. This is a beauty contest after all, so attention to detail is a must. Be prepared also, if your cat has an ‘accident’ on the way to a show, as you will need to clean them up. Last minute checks must be made for the ears, eyes and between paw pads to ensure there is no litter between the toes. it’s show day For a new exhibitor or someone considering taking up this enjoyable and rewarding hobby, show day can be

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bewildering and somewhat daunting. Whilst there is some variation in style and terminology with different feline organisations around Australia, the procedures undertaken during show day tend to follow the same routine. Arrival time is usually between 7am to 8.30am with felines transported in their secure carry boxes. The first stop is to obtain a vet (benching) slip, which is a list

benching areas or the hall depending on the style of show. These are: n An ‘Australian Open Style’ show is one where the exhibits are taken from their cages to a judging table for assessment. During judging there is no general access to the immediate areas around cages – exhibitors and members of the public can remain within the hall to directly observe

“If you want a hobby that you can share with your cat, and make friends with others who love their cats, come to a cat show!” of your exhibits entered in the show. If you are new, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most exhibitors are more than happy to show you the ropes – and their cats! Next stop is vetting. In most states a vet will examine cats before they’re allowed into the show hall on the morning of the show. This is to protect the cats from being in the presence of infectious disease and parasites. There may be specific show requirements, such as clipped claws, and a vaccination certificate may need to be produced at vetting. The vet (benching) slip must be endorsed for each of the exhibits on the slip. Entry may be denied to one or all of the exhibits for a number of reasons including an exhibit showing signs of infection or infestation. Once the vet has cleared your exhibits, it is time to set up show cage/s as required by show regulations. Settle the exhibits, offer litter tray/s and water but it is best to keep feeding until after judging. Give last-minute grooming checks and polishes. Then it’s time to settle back with the other exhibitors and wait for judging to begin. All exhibits should be ready in their cages when the judges arrive to commence their assignments, and exhibitors are requested to leave the

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judging. Results are generally announced as judging progresses. n In a closed-style show, access to any area of the show hall set aside for cages or show workers is restricted to show officials only. Judging occurs at the cages and show results from all rings are provided together at the end of judging proceedings; exhibitors are usually allowed back onto the floor early in the afternoon. Some shows will use a combination of these two show styles. Judging progresses within groups by breed, sex, colour and age classes. Exhibits are assessed according to their individual standards and placings are awarded for each of the classes, gradually working towards selections of ‘Best of Breed’, and higher awards such as ‘Best Exhibits in Group’ (eg. ‘Top 10 Male Cats in Group 3’) or ‘Supreme in Show’. Adult classes are for exhibits aged nine months and over on the day of the show. Winners in the open classes, for each breed/colour/sex, are awarded challenge or merit certificates. Application for ‘Titles’ can be submitted when enough of these certificates have been gained. Titles can be gained through state and national bodies.

Kittens are aged from 10 weeks and up to nine-months old, and include male, female, desexed or litters classes. Winners of the kitten classes are awarded ‘Best in Section’ but are not eligible for titles. Top winners for cats and kittens, in each group, may accrue points for ‘Cat of the Year’ awards with their state registering body and local cat clubs. You can go to a show almost every weekend during the main show season, whether they are within your state or involve interstate travel to a National or specialist show – these are the highlights of the show year for many exhibitors. The Nationals, run by both the ACF and CCCA, are events that attract large numbers of entries from all around Australia and are hosted by different state bodies each year. The recent CCCA Nationals, hosted by NSW CFA in Sydney, attracted over 570 exhibits, of which 250 exhibits were entered in Group 3. Abyssinian and Somali cats, kittens and desexed cats gained placings in the Top 15s of each of the six rings! If you want a hobby that you can share with your cat, and make friends with others who love their cats, come to a cat show! Fiona Mangan (Nivalis cattery NSWCFA) is the President, and Rita Bruche (Vivace cattery GCCFSA) is a committee member of the Abyssinian Cat Club of Australasia Inc. Email: Fiona Mangan someaby@internode.on.net For more information, visit the websites of associations in your state. http://cccofa.asn.au/ http://www.acf.asn.au/ References 1. NSWCFA website http://www.nswcfa.asn.au


Keeping

By Jeanette Philip

cats enclosed

We wanted to create a cat enclosure that would be pleasing to the eye, as well as fun for the cats and kittens to roam, run, play, climb and ambush each other – a favourite pastime of felines.

As breeders of British Shorthair cats, my husband and I can see the importance of keeping cats and kittens at home with access to an enclosure. When purchasing a kitten it is a responsible owner who keeps their feline contained. Mainly to protect your kitten/cat from the perils of the outside world such as dog attacks, cat fights, car accidents, being stolen, and diseases from other cats such as Feline Aids. Cats can get infested with fleas and

worms from killing rodents as well as Feline Leprosy from a rat bite. Tapeworms and ringworm can easily be picked up outside the house. So it would seem only right to protect your much-loved pet. Another reason for restricting cats is the fact they are mini carnivores so will hunt and kill many of our native birds and ground dwellers. To keep peace and harmony in our environment we believe in creating a safe place for cats to play.

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First we started off with a large fishpond that was made to look natural with a water fountain, rocks and plants. We also stocked it with large goldfish. My husband, being a builder, designed it all in his head! He built a large waterfall from local stone, which was hollowed out underneath like a cave. Many tunnels were made inside the waterfall construction for the cats to hide in and run through. A bridge was then made and placed over the stream from the waterfall to the pond.

Across the bridge, a wooden spiral staircase was built to take the cats up to the many natural tree slabs as shelves above the pond so that they could laze and watch the fish. Even a swinging bridge was placed high up, with long tree logs near the rooftop that cats could run on. The roofing is all polycarbonate, giving the enclosure an open-air feeling. Mesh was used for the outside walls with some bamboo cladding to protect from wind. Pot plants of figs and palms give the enclosure a warm tropical feel.

Recently, we built a finch aviary. This was added to the side of the house adjoining the fishpond. This is also full of large potted plants so that it’s a bird haven with a tropical feel. The large lounge and dining room windows from the house look out on the aviary, which also has a water feature. The cats can view the birds from either inside the house or from the outside enclosure.

Jeanette and Murray Philip BRITZ British Shorthair Cattery Albany, WA - www.britzcats.com

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Later we extended the pond so that it runs the full length of the house. This also included our barbecue area where we can spend time with our friends as well as our cats. The cats come and go as they please by way of a cat flap that is in a lounge-room window. We leave nightlights on in the enclosure (colour changing) so that the cats can be out during the night, ambushing each other and having a great time after dark! We also added several pieces of cat furniture and scratching posts.

Our cats are happy and safe, as is our environment and our neighbours.


wendy mitchell

Photography

Biography Internationally published surfing photographer, Wendy Mitchell, has captured surfers in Torquay since the early seventies. Many of her sought after surfing photos have been published in Tracks, Surfing World, Back Door, windsurfing magazines and various other magazines here and overseas. Wendy decided in 2002 that her work in the surfing industry should take another direction and, using the skills developed in capturing surf action, Wendy developed a new business venture in photography. In the following year, “Wendy Mitchell Photography” began to combine her

lifelong love of animals and passion for capturing the essence of a subject on film. She is now renowned for her patience in waiting for that “precise moment”, capturing special moments of emotion. Her pet photography ranges from mobile studio portraiture to field work covering shows and events. Wendy's work has been published in books and magazines around the world and she has displayed her work at many exhibitions. Wendy Mitchell Photography has featured on Channel 9’s ‘Post Cards’. Contact Wendy Mitchell M: 0409 440 668

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Super sense me a cat’s sense of hearing is absolutely incredible . Quite simply , they can hear high frequency sounds we cannot. They can also pick out the tone or pitch of sounds better than humans. In addition, a cat’s ability to locate the source of a sound is highly advanced. From a metre away, a cat can distinguish between sounds from sources only three inches apart. All of these attributes make it quite easy for a cat to distinguish the sound of you opening the door to the cat-food cupboard from the sound of you opening the storeroom that holds the dreaded cat carrier. The cat’s ear is a marvel of feline engineering. Like a sophisticated satellite dish on a TV radar detector van turning to pick up a signal, the cat’s external ear, or pinna, rotates up to 180 degrees to locate and identify even the faintest of squeaks, shrieks or mouse-like rustling noises.

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While dogs are renowned for detecting high-pitched whistles far beyond human hearing, cats actually hear much higher frequencies than canines and are only slightly inferior at the low end of the frequency scale. The upper range for humans is 23,000hz, dogs is around 45,000hz, while 64,000hz is the top limit for felines. Cats also can detect the tiniest variances in sound, distinguishing differences of as little as one-tenth of a tone, which helps them identify the type and size of the prey emitting the noise. This heightened sense of hearing is key to the survival of wildcats, which depend on hunting to live. It also enables wild and domestic feline mothers to hear faint

squeals of distress from their kittens when they stray too far away from the safety of mum’s beady eyes. A cat up to one metre away from the origin of a sound can pinpoint its location to within a few inches in just six onehundredths of a second. Cats also can hear sounds at great distances – four or five times farther away than humans. Hardly surprising then, that your pet is at your feet once you’ve reached for that tin opener! First published on the ‘Your Cat’ website: www.yourcat.co.uk


Feline sounds

Although there are numerous subtle variations in the sounds that a domestic cat will make, there are only seven basic messages: Anger: Adult cats become very noisy when fighting, this will include snarling, growling, wailing and howling. All these forms of signal are given a different name, but carry the same message, ‘Get lost or I will attack you!’. Fear: When cornered, a cat will perform a yowling noise. The message is: ‘I am scared, but do not push me too far or I will turn on you anyway’. If pushed further, the cat will lash out and probably hiss and spit. Pain: If a cat is in great pain it will scream in a way that is understood by any human being. Wanting attention: ‘Miaow’ can say many different things in many contexts, but it will always have the same basic

message, ‘I want your attention’. In wild cats this sound more or less disappears when they reach adulthood. With domestic cats, however, it persists throughout their life. It originates from when they were kittens, letting their mother know when they needed help, and they will use it like pseudo-kittens towards their human owners. They will build on it, developing it into many different miaows, modified to suit each occasion. Asking you to follow: A soft chirruping noise is made when your cat wants you to follow. This comes from when the mother cat wants her kittens to come to her or to follow her. It may also be used as a greeting, when she has been away from the litter for a while. This noise is often made while the cat is on the move and about to go towards the place they expect their food to be.

Inoffensiveness: That wonderful purring sound is your cat telling you that they are in a non-hostile mood. It’s equivalent to our smile. Ready to kill: When a cat is on the prowl and has spotted its prey, they will often make a clicking noise with its teeth. They also use a variant of this when seeing a bird through a window. It is worth noting that purring noises do not only reflect happiness and relaxation, but can also reflect extreme discomfort of sorts. For example, some very scared semi-feral cats will purr when handled or examined, even as they are struggling and fighting. There are many variants and subdivisions of expression made by domestic felines, but these are the seven most important. Visit www.pawsonline.info

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Siberian success stoRy By Marie Mahoney

the history of the cat fancy in Russia has been controversial. let’s take a look at some of the facts and issues that surround these inquisitive animals, which were originally called siberian Forest cats.

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Siberians were first documented in the year 1000. There have always been cats in Russian homes, on farms and strays in the streets. Prior to 1917 there were isolated facts testifying cats being thought of as breeding animals. There were several breeders of cats, but no breed clubs existed. In the memoirs of an old Muscovite there is an episode describing a merchant in Moscow running a competition for cats – the fattest was the winner! During World War II, the city suffered a 900-day siege with many thousands of its citizens dying of hunger and no cats surviving. Huge numbers of rats invaded the city and, to fight them, cats were brought into Leningrad by train from different parts of the USSR. Pedigrees In the late 1980s the first imported pedigreed cat breeds appeared in Russia. These were mainly Persians and interest in pedigreed cats began to grow, with the first cat shows being held in Moscow, Riga and St Petersburg. There was huge public interest in them so, from 1988–1990, the new breed, the ‘Siberian’, attracted attention in other countries. International judges visiting Russia developed an interest in the Siberian cat, and quite a lot of the first generation of registered breeding cats was exported to many countries around the world. This was the beginning of the acceptance of this breed that is now found in all parts of Europe, USA, UK, Japan and, finally, here in Australia. siberians in australia After 150 days of quarantine in the USA and a further 30 days in the Sydney quarantine station, my first registered Siberian cats arrived in 2003. With the importation of the first three Siberians to arrive from the USA – Sibanos Czar of the Rings (USA), Katusha Black (RUS)

are able to compete with the other betterknown breeds for top awards. HyPoallergenic tendencies What is it about the Siberian that gives it a hypoallergenic tendency? Theories abound. The most noted theory is that Siberians have a lower Fel-Dh1 concentration than ordinary house cats. Proteins that are produced by the animal cause allergies. Every cat produces a protein called Fel-Dh1. This is the protein that is said to cause 85 per cent of the allergies that people allergic to cats suffer from. The Siberian cat produces far less Fel-Dh1 than the average cat. A large percentage of the population that has cat allergies will most likely be able to live in a house with a Siberian cat. The protein is given off when the cat licks or cleans itself. The dried saliva flakes off. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the dander of the cat that is the cause of the allergy. With that said, the Siberian also produces much less dander because they have an ‘oilier’ skin. (This means that their skin tends to flake much less.) To date we have noted great success with being able to place our kittens into families that normally would not be able to own a cat. We suggest that for anyone who is considering the option of owning a Siberian, that they should firstly visit an owner of a pet Siberian or one of the breeders to ensure they are not experiencing a reaction before they proceed to order a pet Siberian. a loving Pet While the Siberian cat is a very loving family pet with their family members, it is not outgoing with strangers. They do love the company of another feline but will also share their affection with your family dog if you do not have another cat. They happily curl up with them to sleep and some will allow the dogs to groom them.

“We have a small group of breeders within Australia working together to develop a gene pool and also to promote our Siberians.” and Cooncreole Veronika (USA) – the Miakoschka Siberian foundation cats began and our breeding plans started. We have since gone on to export Miakoschka Siberians to New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, The Philippines, Germany, Sweden, England and Holland. Some of these cats have gone into family homes to become loving pets, with others going to the homes of breeders and shown in their countries. Our breeders in Australia have since gone on to import cats from Norway, Sweden, Japan and Poland. We have a small group of breeders within Australia working together to develop a gene pool and also promote our Siberians. They are often seen on the show bench today and

We recommend that your Siberian should be kept as an indoor pet only. Siberians do love the outdoors as their natural environment, historically, is in the forests of Siberia. However, for the safety and longevity of your pet we recommend indoor homes as the best option. With the added use of outdoor enclosures you can also keep your pet safe, happy and entertained in a secure environment. The Siberian cat is a very agile and active feline so lots of toys, a nice tall scratchy post and regular play times will ensure your pet is kept entertained and contented. coat Siberians have a medium to long dense coat, which is heavier in winter. Once the cooler weather is over, grooming will need

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Siberians will also allow yo to bath them. We do advise u as long as this is introduced this at a young age.

“The Siberian is a large, strong cat that can take up to five years to mature.” to be maintained until the winter coat has been shed and they are ready for summer. The Siberian copes quite well with our hotter climate. They don’t grow the same amount of fur they would require if they were in their natural environment of the harsh Siberian winter. Washing and brushing Siberians will also allow you to bath them. We do advise this as long as this is introduced at a young age. If it is continued they will accept this as part of their routine grooming regime. A good brush and a comb once a week with nail clipping every other week should be all you need to do to maintain your Siberian. diet We recommend a good diet of raw meats including chicken, beef and turkey as well as good quality dry food. Raw bones for the teeth will ensure a well-balanced diet and your cat will be satisfied. The Siberian cat is a very strong, healthy breed. All pets are sold de-sexed and microchipped, and they are fully vaccinated. Pedigree papers are also included with the purchase of your pet. the breed standard n The head of the Siberian is a modified wedge of medium size with rounded contours that are broader at the skull. They narrow slightly to a full rounded muzzle with a slight taper to the chin. The cheekbones are high set and well developed, and there should be a good distance between the ears and the eyes. n The forehead is slightly rounded and broad. n The nose is medium length with slight indentation. n The ears on the Siberian are medium to wide and set as much on the sides of the head as on the top.

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The tips are rounded and the ear tilts forward. n The eyes are large, slightly oval and set wide apart with the outer corner slightly angled toward the base of the ear oblique. There is no relationship of eye colour to coat colour – however, the typical colour seen is yellow or green. n The neck is powerful and the body is round and well muscled, with a broad chest. n The bone structure is good and the length of the leg is in proportion to give a rectangular appearance. n The tail is medium-long, wide at the base with a blunt tip at the end. It’s evenly and thickly covered with fur from the base to the tip. the siberian’s cOat The coat of the Siberian is its crowning glory. n It is a moderately to longhaired coat with the fur on the lower chest and shoulder blades being slightly shorter. n There should be an abundant ruff around the neck setting off the large, impressive head. n The undercoat is tight, which becomes thicker in colder weather. n The coat gives the impression of lacquer and oil when ungroomed. The hair may thicken and curl on the belly and britches, but this is not a feature of the cat. cOlOurs n Clear, strong colours and patterns are desirable but are secondary to type. n Colour varieties of the Siberian vary, and all colours are genetically possible, such as tabby, solid colours, tortoiseshell colours and colour point varieties. There is some dispute as to the origins of the colour points in the breed but as

long as records have been kept in Russia, colour points have been noted to have been produced. The Russians believe that the feral pointed cats mated with the other colours along the Neva River region in Leningrad (which is now named St Petersburg) in the 1960s. Soon Russian breeders began including this pattern into their breeding programs and created the nickname ‘NevaMasquerade’ for them: ‘Neva’ for the river and ‘masquerade’ for the mask. These are not a separate class of the Siberian but another colour. Some countries still do not accept the colour-pointed version in the breed acceptance standard. No outcrosses are permitted for this breed. Overall appearance The Siberian is a large, strong cat that can take up to five years to mature. The females, being smaller than the males, are noted for their agility and ability to leap great distances. Their muscles are outstanding and powerful. The overall appearance should be a cat of great strength and size with an excellent physical tone. The facial expression is alert but sweet. The general impression of the cat is one of circles and roundness.

Miakoschka Siberian Cats We will arrange a visit with an owner closest to you if you contact us requesting a visit with a siberian to monitor your reaction. We take great pleasure in being able to provide a much-loved family member for families that would not normally be able to enjoy the unique companionship that comes with a loving cat to share your life and home with. email: marie@siberiancats.com.au www.siberiancats.com.au


Heart

to Heart By Dallas Hall

Have you ever heard of Feline Hyper trophic cardiomyopathy ? Dallas Hall had the terrible experience of learning about this disease , first-hand, when her young cat, sasha , died ver y suddenly earlier this year.

“Oh, my God, she’s dying!” I screamed hysterically, as I gently cocooned Sasha inside my arms and helplessly watched her life slip away. She jerked convulsively against my chest and saliva dripped from her open mouth, making me panic even more because I didn’t know what was happening to her. Had she swallowed one of her toys? Was she having an allergic reaction to her food? Did she hit her head while she was playing? With no clue, I raced outside and jumped into my car, shouting, “Hold on, Babygirl!” But before I put the key in the ignition, I knew I was too late. Her body slumped over and the fire that had always burned brightly in her big,

expressive eyes went out. Heartbroken, I sat there tenderly holding her, left to wonder why my beloved cat was dead. After my tears finally subsided and I could think clearly, I took Sasha’s body to the vet for an autopsy – what I learned in veterinary terms is called a necropsy – to try to determine the cause of her sudden death. Before I could lay her to rest and find peace with her passing, I needed some answers, mainly one in particular. Could I have prevented It? Several days later, I was stunned to hear she had Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM).

“Hyper. . . Cardio . . . What?” I repeated, somewhat annoyed, but mainly confused by what I was hearing. I was in no mood to listen to a lot of complex medical terminology that referred to Sasha as merely a patient, not a dearly loved pet. “A disease of the heart where the walls thicken, obstructing blood flow to . . . ” the veterinarian’s voice faded away, and I failed to digest the rest because I was too busy denying it. “But she was young and healthy!” Or so I thought. “I fed her organic foods; she exercised daily; her yearly checkups were never missed,” I argued, if only to convince

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myself I’d done everything possible to stop it. In fact, I pointed out, she’d been spayed a few weeks earlier and the EKG indicated no irregularities. “I don’t understand.” Unfortunately, neither did the vet. Little is known about the disease, so there’s not much in the way of prevention. “HCM,” he tried again, “is a condition that arises in two per cent of cats (mostly males) during any age (typically young to middle age) where thickening of the heart muscle makes the chamber smaller. This decreases its power to pump blood throughout the body, which can lead to congestive heart failure.” I wasn’t satisfied with his explanation because she ran faster than a speeding bullet and leapt over couches in a single bound. (Catnip was her only weakness.) “What caused it?” To my frustration, he couldn’t give a specific reason. “It’s still being studied, so there’s not a single underlying cause. Some cases have indicated hereditary links while others suggest poor diet or certain diseases.” Basically, he didn’t know, and was citing information that might be helpful to me. It was, but I still had a difficult time accepting it. “But she had an EKG,” I stressed for a second time. “Surely, that would have shown any heart problems.”

“[HCM is the] thickening of the hear t muscle makes the chamber smaller. This decr eases its power to pump blood throughout the body, which can lead to congestive heart fa ilure.”

Not necessarily. “In order to clearly see the size of the heart and how it’s functioning,” he clarified, “an ultrasound image (echocardiography) is typically used. However, since Sasha showed no obvious signs of the disease (such as difficulty breathing, fatigue, decrease in appetite, or enlargement of the stomach area), it wasn’t necessary.” Maybe it should have been. In the end, I was told there was nothing I could have done. Even if her HCM had been detected, there was no cure and the outcome would ultimately be the same. death Even so, I’d have liked to have had a heads-up. It’s been four months since Sasha crossed over the Rainbow Bridge and there’s not a single day I don’t miss her. Because she was so young and full of life,

At Zen Shiatsu and Counselling you will find relief or cure for: n Chronic or acute pain

n Phobias

n Stress symptoms

n Sleep problems

n Lack of energy

n Hormone related changes

n Weight/dietary concerns

n Addictions

n Depression

n Relationship problems

n Anxiety

n Grief, loss, trauma

“To know yourself means being great.” (Goethe)

I never suspected she had a heart problem that would unexpectedly take her from me. But you don’t have to be taken off guard. Request an ultRasound It’s the best way to be proactive in order to be able to catch it in time for treatment. If diagnosed, your veterinarian will monitor its development and prescribe various medications to slow its progression. The course of the disease varies from cat to cat, but trust me, it’s better to be informed and prepared than have your feline friend die without warning. Looking back on that terrible day, I’m glad Sasha died while she was playing with her favourite ball, her yellow eyes shining with mischievousness as she chased it around the house. In the end, it didn’t matter to her that her heart was weak because it was filled with happiness.

Nina Lis Coughlan Dip. Zen Shiatsu Therapy (Tokyo and Sydney) Dip. Applied Counselling Dip. Transpersonal Art Therapy Dip. Remedial Massage Senior First Aid Certificate Qualifications in: Macrobiotics, Exercise Advice, Analytical Body-Psychotherapy, Trauma Management, Crisis Management, Abuse and Neglect, Foot and Hand Reflexology, Creativity as a Tool, Anatomy and Physiology, Client Health, Anxiety Disorders, Effective Case Work, Advanced Behaviour Management, Grief Counselling, Working with Change.

How Can I Assist You? I offer tailor-made treatments. You are different from anyone else, and different every day. Together, you and I address your condition and find the origin of your physical and/or emotional discomfort. Our quest is to find the pattern and eventually the origin of the concern and discover ways to “re-teach” your body/mind in order to maintain a much greater, permanent state of wellbeing – to release emotional burdens and/or to be pain-free. In all modalities I apply a holistic approach and aim at addressing you in your entire complexity: body, mind and spirit. You choose the approach – whether it is talking or body work. The modality can vary from session to session. The benefits are noted even after the very first treatment.

zen shiatsu | counselling | transpersonal art therapy | body mind | remedial massage north sydney p: 0421 603 854 e: nina@zenshi.biz www.zenshi.biz

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Puss

– an ePilePtic Pet By Emma Dunnett

My cat was newly born when Mum found him, covered in masses of fleas, stranded on our front lawn. She scooped him out of the dust and rushed him to the vet. He came home after he’d been examined and vaccinated. We decided to call him Dusty because Mum found him in the dust, but he is usually referred to as Puss. k i t t e n S & c at S a n n u a l 2 0 1 2

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“The fits were at their worst and poor ol’ Puss would be terribly sore after a major one.” Puss has ruled the household for the last ten years. Oh, and he’s ten! He bosses my parents, brother and I, as well as our dog, nine chickens, 20 fish (only two are still living) and tadpoles. Although he’s a good cat, he can be very naughty and silly. He also has epilepsy. My brother and I were delighted to have a pet when Puss first arrived at home – even though I was only one at the time. During the day, Puss could be found having a catnap on my brother Liam’s bed. I must admit that I was a little jealous, seeing as he seemed to like my brother more than me. However, I began to learn that he liked neither of us better – he seemed to hate both of us equally! The truth was that he thought Mum was his mother, so he would suck her furry dressing gown each morning, as he still does today. He disliked Liam and I as he thought that we were intruding on his mother. We didn’t mind, as we knew he would grow to like us just as much. Since Puss thought that Liam and I were the intruders, he would scratch and bite us at every chance he got, and he continually did this until, well, he actually hasn’t stopped. It seemed very strange to us that he did this for no apparent reason,

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as well as pausing and having frequent fits. Mum took him to the vet who, after tests, told us that he had epilepsy. The vet gave him some tablets and told us of the many other requirements that would be necessary for his wellbeing. Over time, his tablets helped him slowly reduce the fits to about three per day. Although still three too many, it was a relief. We did worry about him climbing things. What would happen if he had an epileptic fit while walking on a fence etc? Well, we soon learnt that the old saying about cats landing on all four legs was wrong. Puss would often fall off cabinets, beds and fences . . . and land on his head, back, and generally anything other than his feet. The vet had prescribed him phenobarbital, a medicine that was used for people who suffered from epilepsy. The fits were at their worst and poor ol’ Puss would be terribly sore after a major one. When it was over, he would turn around as if to say, “Who put me here? Why am I here?” Sometimes he would lash out and bite whoever happened to be closest. The fits gradually got worse over the next couple of years. Mum wasn’t sure if the medication was really doing anything for him and he absolutely hated taking his

tablets. He would scratch and bite when Mum tried to put one down his throat. This was even in spite of the fact he got a little cat treat afterwards. Mum seemed to realise that his fits were far worse in the summer. As the weather got hotter, his fits became more frequent. When there were extremely hot days in February poor Pussy would have fits with such frequency that Dad would suggest we take him to the vet for one final visit. I didn’t understand what he meant but Mum would always give him a funny look and change the subject. I knew Puss wasn’t well, as the poor cat could be sitting perfectly happily on the table etc when, all of a sudden, the twitching would start. In a matter of seconds he would be upside-down on the floor and paralysed – in a most uncatlike position. On a number of occasions, Mum was able to catch him midflight if he was having a fit on top of a piece of furniture but, more often than not, he would end up on the floor. These falls must have hurt him. Mum really thought that one day he just wouldn’t come home – he’d be the victim of having a fit on the roof or up a tree. One summer when his fits were really bad, Mum decided to play ‘vets’ so she tried adjusting Puss’s doses of medicine. Instead of half a tablet morning and evening, she tried giving him one whole table morning and night. This turned out to be a really bad idea. By the time he’d had three whole tablets within thirty-six hours, Puss was staggering about the house with glazed eyes and a bit of a funny expression on his face. Dad accused him of stealing the scotch and Mum felt very bad. He got lots of cat treats that day and never again did Mum attempt to ‘medicate’ him. On a brighter note, he was so dopey he forgot to be cranky. No one got scratched or bitten during that episode. When I was about three, Puss started to bring us ‘presents’ of rats and mice, and this habit still continues. We often find dead creatures on the stairs and we feel that although they are not helpful gifts, it’s the thought that counts. When I was seven, our chickens came for Christmas. We kept them in the backyard. Unfortunately, Puss thought they were great to stalk. They were all very special and we called them Fluffy, Percy and Spare Chicken. Spare Chicken wasn’t very useful because he and Percy turned out to be roosters. We sold them and got two more. Then the dog came. He and the cat are sworn enemies but they did combine to kill one chicken. When they’re not chasing chickens, Puss likes to annoy the dog by sitting halfway up the stairs so that the dog can’t get up or down! The dog also thinks Mum is the pack leader so, as you can imagine, this leads to a few problems. When we play-fight with Puss on


the stairs, the dog believes we are in serious peril so tries to save us from the ‘attack cat’. Of course, this has led to the dog having his fair share of scratches too. For a while I disliked cats as I thought that all they did was scratch and bite. However, since the beginning of this year Puss has only scratched me a handful of times. Mum suspects that he has lost his memory! He is now much friendlier and nicer to be around. He enjoys sleeping on my bed, under my bed, beside my bed and really anywhere near my bed. Coincidentally, it’s winter as I’m writing this and I have an electric blanket. When not on my bed, Puss sometimes climbs into the cabinet in the lounge room. The television sits on it, which makes it very warm. One time Puss was very, very intrigued by Mum’s cupboard. He sat there for a day and a half, just watching this cupboard. Mum was confused as it’s a long time for a cat to sit there motionless. Sometimes he pretends to be asleep and then decides he wants to play a game of ‘attack the human ankle as it walks past’, but, this time, he wasn’t doing anything. Mum decided to investigate. She moved her clothes aside and peered carefully in. As she moved more things a small beast could be seen hiding in the depths. Her horrified yell could be heard from streets away!

“When they’re not chasing chickens, Puss likes to annoy the dog by sitting halfway up the stairs so that the dog can’t get up or down!” “RAT!!!!!!! There is a rat in MY wardrobe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” We raced up the stairs, just in time to see the rat scrambling into a pair of jeans. Mum was not impressed. As she moved the clothes aside once again, the rat leapt across the room, like a sugar glider, right towards her face. She dived out of its way as it scampered across the room in search of another sensible – or not-so-sensible – hiding space. He tried underneath Mum and Dad’s bed before racing across the bed frame and into my bedroom via a quick stopover in the back of the cabinet. We thought that the stuffed-toy cupboard in my bedroom was the perfect place for rat to hide. However, the rat had other ideas as he was soon scampering into Liam’s rather messy room. Mum got him! She threw Liam’s pyjamas over him, gingerly caught him and carried him into the yard. She set him free, hoping he would never dare return. In this case, it would seem that the rat had nine lives. Puss, on the other hand, got a stern talking to from Mum. You’d think that he could have caught the creature, but he was the worst participant! The dog

was more helpful, even though all he did was bark. That day we spent chasing the rat around the house was great! We all got some exercise and a chance to have fun together. It was also really tiring so, afterwards, we sat on the couch to laugh about our silly adventure. At the moment Puss is sitting next to me with a very irritated look on his face. The blanket he prefers just happens to be the one I am sitting on! Puss likes sucking the blanket because it is furry. It gets very annoying when he does this as it makes the blanket soggy. He also likes to take up too much space. Puss has been through a lot and does some pretty silly things. His epilepsy confuses him and he still has the occasional fit. Even though he has calmed down a lot, we still need to warn unsuspecting guests that, although he is one of the prettiest cats you will ever see, he is not really terribly keen on meeting people and making new friends. The truth, though, is that he’s a loving (slightly scratchy) cat who will sit on you all day long – especially if it is winter and you are covered in a furry blanket!

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Profiling people & their pets

Owner: Elsbeth Ed gar Occupation: Writer Breed: Black and W hite Short Hair Name: Emily Personality: Despot ic

Why I chose this cat: We did not choose Emily. She chose us. When we first met her, she was a tiny kitten in an animal shelter – all legs and ears. The other kittens were jumping around and playing but Emily was very quiet. She just sidled up to us and leant against my husband's leg, purring. When he picked her up, she nestled into his shoulder and a few minutes later she was asleep. How sweet, we thought. How wrong we were! Emily had cat flu. As soon as she recovered, after numerous visits to the vet and much loving attention, her true nature emerged. She is a tyrant. She rules the household with a rod of iron, expressing her displeasure by striking with her sharp claws and nipping with her sharp teeth. Her eyes grow wide and dark when her will is crossed. Beneath this ferocity, however, there remains a vulnerability that manifests itself in her need to be with us. She is constantly calling out, asking where we are. She throws a temper tantrum if we have visitors and she does not have time on one of our laps. At night she reverts to her kittenhood, nuzzling into our hair and stretching her long arms around our necks before falling asleep on the pillow beside us. It is then, gazing down at her, that we remember the little cat that pleaded, in the only way she knew how, to come home with us. And, despite all the

problems and exasperation, we are glad that she did. Anecdote: For a little cat with such a fierce attitude towards her humans, Emily is surprisingly timid in the outside world. She is particularly afraid of the Indian myna birds in our garden and dives for the safety of the house whenever they are about. Her most painful experience, however, happened when she was still a kitten. She was exploring a flowerbed and discovered a bee. Within seconds she was back in the kitchen, a sting protruding from her tiny chin. The bite swelled and for several days she wandered around with a lopsided face. Maintenance: Emily goes out for a morning and evening stroll around the garden but she spends the rest of the day inside, sleeping while we are at work. Food: A mixture of canned food and dry food; an egg yoke as a special treat. Your book: On Orchard Road On Orchard Road tells the story of Jane, a young girl who is intensely unhappy about all the changes taking place in her life: a new baby sister, a new town, a new school. Then she meets an old woman and her cat and, as their friendship blossoms, she discovers that happiness can be found in the most unexpected places.

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Owner’s name: Wendy Campbel l Cat’s name: Bella Breed: Part Persian, part lots of other things! Personality: She’s a very indepe ndent lady. She has been a factor y cat, so is used to faring for herself. However, she always en joys a cuddle and purrs so loudly I’m sure she can be heard for miles around.

Why I chose this breed: My friends were selling their business – the factory where Bella lived – and were worried about finding a home for her. I put up my hand immediately, as I wanted an older cat, and have loved her ever since. Anecdote: We did have a few problems to start with. Licking up rain-sodden fertiliser poisoned Bella, and this caused her to convulse. She recovered after a trip to the vet, a stomach pump and Valium. (I felt like taking some as well.) After two days at home, she ran away or became lost, and had a two-week adventure that only she knows about. After I had given up hope of ever finding her, she returned, a thin little creature. After a great welcome and tears, she settled in, only to convulse again. I wrapped her in a towel and forced a Valium down her throat and avoided another trip to the vet. Since then, she is on low-dose Valium each

Owner’s name: Anna Vyrovshc hikova Cat’s name: Kotya. I brought him into our family before I moved to Australia, and he still lives with my pa ren ts in Moscow. Breed: No special breed. He’s jus t very cute, short haired, black cat with white paws and whiskers. In Ru ssia, we call such cats ‘backyar d’ ones, meaning that they are very com mon. Personality: Kotya totally dispels the myth that cats are selfish animals that like to be the centre of the universe and don’t care about those who look after them. He’s really attached to the members of our family. My father, who’s now retired, and Kotya have several rituals a day: morning feeding and brushing, and a series of walks on the balcony throughout the day. Kotya is very talkative and often expresses his feelings by melodious meows. Most commonly it happens when Kotya needs more brushing and patting, which, in his understanding, is never enough. Kotya is an inside cat. Moscow is such a busy city with lots of traffic so cats that play outside on the streets can be easily injured. So Kotya’s world is my parent’s three-bedroom apartment, and he’s never

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day. She’s settled down and has never attempted to leave home again. Maintenance: Since the moment she arrived she has been such an easy cat to care for – other than the poisoning! She went straight to her kitty litter, chose her own sleeping arrangements, ie. either in the linen cupboard (not realising, I locked her in one night), in the bottom of my wardrobe or with me on my bed. She enjoys getting up to attack rugs and toys etc. in the early hours of the morning. She has some sort of war where she runs and hides from something, and then creeps out again! She loves to sit with me on my leather chair at night to watch TV. Diet: She has tuna with crushed Valium in the morning, together with dried food, which she has in her bowl all day. She has kangaroo mince in the evening, and seems very content with this.

been outside except for his regular veterinary visits. My parents and myself who brought him up are the only people he feels comfortable with. He’s very cautious with everyone else who he didn’t know since he was a kitten, including my husband and family friends. Since I moved to Australia, it has become a real problem for my parents to go on holidays as they can’t even think of putting Kotya into a cattery. So when my parents are away, they have to ask one of their neighbours to come to the apartment two times a day to feed Kotya. Even though this system has been in place for the last three years and it’s always the same person, Kotya still thinks our neighbour hasn’t done enough to earn his trust, so he never shows up to her. He does eat the food, but whenever she comes he hides somewhere. When my parents are back from holidays he rushes to meet them and then keeps on meowing, or should I say, screaming, for a couple of hours. It’s as if he’s trying to say, “How could you leave me alone?”. Then, for the next couple of days Kotya follows my parents everywhere trying to make sure that they are not going to leave him again. Getting my parents to come to visit me in Australia became a real problem as


they refuse to leave Kotya for longer than three weeks. Why I chose this cat: It was an impulse decision, really. In Russia there’s no obligation to get cats desexed, so far too often cats give birth to kittens and their owners have to find them a new home. Sometimes owners go to markets/railway stations with a note, “Lovely kitten is looking for a new home”. (I honestly don’t understand why they prefer to do so instead of simply desexing their cat). I was on my way home from work when I spotted a man with a very kind face holding two kittens. He wasn’t trying to sell them, he was just looking for someone to adopt them. One of the kittens looked straight into my eyes and I knew he chose me. The breed didn’t matter. Before I got Kotya I’d thought I’d preferred long haired cats but I just felt in love with this cute little

creature. I brought him home, before taking him to a vet to check about vaccinations (and desexing). Anecdote: With Kotya, we’ve been very lucky. Even though he’s a ‘backyard’ cat, he’s naturally very well behaved. He didn’t develop any bad habits we had to struggle with (Yes, I know, it’s me who spotted him! I can only thank my intuition!). Except one, when we invited guests for dinner. In Russia, we traditionally cook lots of food so when guests come the entire table is covered with plates and bowls – just with different starters (I’m not even talking about a main dish!). One of the guests noticed our cat and asked if we had to watch him in case he wanted to steal some food from the table. We said we didn’t have such problems as our Kotya never did that – he’s just a perfect cat. Then we went into the dining room

and what a surprise! Our Kotya is sitting right in the middle of our dining table with a huge piece of ham in his teeth! He escaped straight away and was extremely busy with his ham until the end of the evening. We’ve since found that Kotya only tries to steal something when we have invited friends around. Other than that, never. Maybe it’s his way to impress guests. Maintenance: Kotya is a low-maintenance cat. He is brushed, more because he loves it rather than being necessary. We did toilet train him straight away so his litter box habits have been simply perfect. Food: Kotya’s daily meals are a combination of cat food, fresh best-quality meat and special cat vitamins and grass. Occasionally, we give him some dried cat food. Kotya never eats if he’s not hungry so is a good weight and very fit. He’s six years old now but he’s still very playful and agile.

confiscated his trophies as soon as he brought them home but it didn’t deter him. The final straw came one afternoon when he brought in a brand new scourer, less than five minutes after we’d taken away a slightly-more-used version of the same kind. We knew they must belong to the girls who’d just moved in downstairs, since they were the only ones who didn’t yet know to keep their washing up implements out of reach. Sheepishly, we went down to apologise. I made my partner do the talking. “I, um, think our cat may have…” said David, holding up the sponges in lieu of further explanation. He and I laughed awkwardly, waiting for the girl who answered the door to see the funny side. “We know,” she said, not even cracking a smile. “We watched him do it. Twice.” She snatched the sponges from David’s hand and closed the door.

Thankfully we didn’t see our downstairs neighbours much before we moved house a few weeks later. Our new neighbourhood had a mouse problem. Morris soon forgot all about sponges. Maintenance: As Morris gets older we pay far fewer visits to the vet to deal with fight-related injuries but he demands a lot more attention at home. He insists on sitting between us on the sofa and somehow manages to take up a third of our queen-size bed. Food Preferred: Raw prawns, lightly fried mushrooms and a lick of Vegemite. Actual: One of the two flavours of Whiskas he’ll deign to eat, mixed with green lipped-mussel powder for his creaky joints. Your book: Little Sister Little Sister is the story of 16-year-old Al Miller, who is counting down the days until her over-achieving older sister Larrie finishes Year 12 and leaves Whitlam High School forever. Then, Al is certain people will finally see her as more than just ‘Larrie’s little sister.’ But when a rumour about Larrie spreads around school, Al finds herself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Along with sibling rivalry, Little Sister touches on issues around cyber bullying, homophobia in schools, genetics, and privacy and social media. It’s also about watching hot guys play soccer, a battle of the bands competition, unrequited love and the tragedy of everyone you know having more of a life on Facebook than you do. Being a cat nerd, I like to sneak a feline element into each of my books. In Little Sister we meet Al’s best friend’s cats, Ziggy and Major Tom, and learn how to play the fortune telling game of Lucky Cats. Blog: http://aimeesaid.blogspot.com

Owner: Aimee Said Occupation: Writer Breed: Ginger moggie Name: Morris (Maurice when he’s naughty) Personality: Was Young Punk with Attitude, now Grumpy Old Man

Why I chose this cat: The long answer has to do with my redheaded partner plotting a male, ginger majority in our household. The short answer is that Morris was up for adoption from the Animal Welfare League the weekend we went looking, 12 years ago. Anecdote: As a kitten, Morris’s hunting instinct was strong but his prey instinct was weak. When he was six months old he came home with his first catch, taking it under our bed and growling when we attempted to free it from him. It would have been distressing if his victim had been something other than a scouring sponge, stolen from a neighbour’s kitchen. Over the next few months Morris perfected his sponge-hunting skills. Our initial amusement turned to embarrassment as every neighbour in our block of units fell victim to his pilfering. We

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test your

Emergency IQ it’s a cat owner ’s nightmare : something’s wrong with your cat and your regular veterinarian is not available.

You’re left to make a judgment when your cat needs emergency care. Handling critical situations can mean the difference between life and death. Here are some common scenarios. Circle all those you think require emergency attention, then check your answers. 1. Should you worry? Your cat: a. just vomited undigested food b. vomited for the fourth time today and seems lethargic c. threw up a hairball d. threw up, and you see signs of blood. Correct answers: b and d. “Owners should try to distinguish vomiting from regurgitation,” says Dr Ken Macquisten, DVM, of Abbotsford, British Columbia. “Regurgitation is a natural response to eating too fast.” Vomiting, especially when accompanied by other signs, may be more serious. “If vomiting occurs more than once per day,” Dr Macquisten adds, “or has signs of blood in it, it should be investigated.” 2. Your cat appears to be choking. You should seek emergency help when: a. it sounds like a hairball is on the way up b. her mouth is wide open but she’s making no sound c. she’s pawing at her mouth and taking big swallows d. she collapses. Correct answers: b and d. If your cat can’t make a noise, she probably can’t breathe, and will die without immediate veterinary care. Fortunately, life-threatening choking is

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uncommon, according to Petra Drake, DVM, of San Francisco, California. “Most of the time,” she says, “cats are able to expel a foreign body or mucus on their own.” 3. Which ones would cause problems if your cat ingests them? a. acetaminophen (Tylenol) b. ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) c. acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin) d. birth control pills. Correct answers: All. “If an owner sees a cat ingest Tylenol, it is an emergency,” Dr. Drake says. “Ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are also toxic. Birth-control pills are the least dangerous, but ask your veterinarian’s advice if your cat ingests many.” 4. You should take your cat to your veterinarian or emergency clinic if she is bleeding from: a. a cut pad b. a broken toenail c. the rectum d. the nose. Correct answers: a,c and d. But even a bleeding toenail should be examined if it doesn’t stop within five minutes. “A 12-pound cat [five-kilo cat] can safely lose up to two ounces of blood,” Dr Macquisten says. 5. Your cat jumped off the refrigerator. Which of these scenarios requires a visit to the veterinarian? a. she won’t bear weight on one of her legs b. she’s walking with a slight limp c. she shook one foot violently, glared at you and walked away with a normal stride d. one leg is now at a funny angle. Correct answers: a and d.

A limb that doesn’t bear weight needs to be examined. “There are a myriad of reasons for limping,” Dr. Drake says, “from a compound fracture or torn ligament to a broken nail or torn footpad.” 6. Which of the following is the most serious? a. your cat has gone three days without a bowel movement b. your cat keeps straining in the litter box with no results c. your cat has three bowel movements a day. Correct answer: b. “Cats straining to eliminate may be either trying to empty their bowels or their bladders,” Dr Macquisten says. “Constipation is uncomfortable, but a cat unable to urinate can die within 24 hours. An immediate veterinary examination is critical to determine the cause of the straining.” Post the emergency telephone numbers for your regular veterinarian and your local after-hours emergency veterinary hospital. You never know when an emergency may occur. Veterinarians and their answering services know how to identify emergency situations. By asking a few questions, they will be able to help you take the right course of action. “A simple phone call,” Dr. Macquisten says, “can often determine whether something is a true emergency or not.”

‘Test your emergency IQ’ © P&G Pet Care. www.iams.com


Book reviews picture books

Title: The Language of Cat Author: Rachel Rooney Publisher: Walker Books, 2011 Pages: 96 RRP: $15.95 The Language of Cat is a fun little volume of poetry by Rachel Rooney. This is her first book of collected poems, and I am sure that it will not be her last. There is so much in this book with poems that play on words – poems that are

metaphorical and poems that are very literal, poems that tell stories and poems that make you think. In all of Rooney’s work there is a sense of playfulness and fun, as well as something more. The Language of Cat is full of interactive poems that engages the reader on many levels, making you search for the hidden meaning or clue in each and every one of them. Sometimes it is to see the clever play on words or to solve the riddle, while at other times it is to see the comments on life that Rachel Rooney has to offer. It gives you a sense of the playfulness of language and makes you think about small and subtle ways that language works and can be manipulated to say something more or say something less. You get caught up with the fun and ridiculous nature of the poems. You will find yourself looking at poems that raise questions such as: n What is the language of a cat? Is it the way that they walk? ‘Let me walk with a saunter, nose in the air.’ n What came first – the poem or the poet? (Especially since the chicken came before the egg) n Why didn’t Morag MacKeith ever write back to her queen? n What does make a statue freeze? I would recommend The Language of Cat to anyone who is looking to enjoy some whacky poetry that has a surprising amount of substance to it. Reviewer: Jennifer Wood

Title: Homer: The library cat Author: Reeve Lindbergh Illustrator: Anne Wilsdorf Publisher: Walker Books, 2011 Pages: 32 (hardback) RRP: $27.95 Children will enjoy listening to this rhyming story about Homer, a quiet cat who lives in a quiet house. One day, however, when he was frightened, he jumped out of the window to find himself in a very noisy world. He’d never heard loud sneezing or the clanging of fire bells, let alone the ‘choo choo’ of trains. He didn’t know where to go or what to do. It was all very scary for a little cat, until he ran into the library and heard a familiar voice reading a library book to a group of children – the librarian was ‘the quiet lady’, his owner! It turns out that: The boys and girls loved Homer. Homer loved them back. He slept right through the stories but woke up for the snack. It’s a story that will make most readers want to cuddle a cat and hear them purr. The illustrations are terrific – full of energy and character. The endpapers are also gorgeous. With so many picture books being published, the quality is sometimes a little disappointing. Not so with this book as it is one that children will generally enjoy revisiting to discuss the pictures and to enjoy the sounds of the words – as well as being able to read a wonderful, feel-good story that shows how rewarding it is to own (or befriend) a cat. Reviewer: Jane Campbell (MA Children’s Literature and Literacy)

Title: Scrawny Cat Author: Phyllis Root Illustrator: Alison Friend Publisher: Candlewick Press 2011 Pages: 32 RRP: $27.95 This is a delightful picture book that has, as all good picture books should do, a happy ending. It’s about a homeless cat that knows his name isn’t, ‘Get out of here’, despite most people he sees yelling that phrase at him. After venturing, unsuccessfully, from place to place he ends up finding shelter under a dinghy seat. During a storm the dinghy drifts out to sea before running aground on a sandy beach in front of a house. The author, Phyllis Root, writes beautifully. She obviously has a great deal of respect for children as she doesn’t write

down to them. Again, as all good picture books do, she is extending the reader’s vocabulary – without them realising. The context of the story and the illustrations give meaning to the words. If they don’t immediately know, children will quickly grasp the meaning of the word ‘scrawny’ that is in the title and repeated on the first page. Similarly, the words ‘hunkered’, ‘skittery’, ‘plummeted’, ‘tuckered-out’ and ‘dinghy’ all come to life. The illustrations complement and extend this heart-warming text. The cat is indeed scrawny and lonely. He’s also very lovable – and meets the right person who he can love also. Well worth reading. Reviewer: Jane Campbell

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information books

Title: The Cat Selector: How to choose the right cat for you Author: David Alderton Publisher: Scholastic Australia, October 2011 Pages: 176 RRP: $19.99 What a fabulous book! This large, A4sized book (290 x 250mm) is beautifully laid out. The big print, terrific pictures and generous amounts of white space make this book appealing and engaging. (With the gorgeous cats and kittens on display, it would be hard for even a non-cat lover to ignore this book.) As the blurb says, “With so many cat breeds available, making the right choice can be difficult”. Books like this certainly present you with information in easily digestible chunks. The author, David Alderton, seems to have thought of everything. He even has a ‘Human Selector’ – the things you need to consider before purchasing a cat, so that you get the breed that best suits you and your family’s needs.

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The book is broken into 18 chapters that include: n Choosing a Cat n Patterned Cats n Lap Cats n Cats with Energy n Large Cats n Working Cats n Wild Cats n Talented Cats n High-maintenance cats n Unique Cats n Caring for Cats. There is also a very handy glossary as well as an index. Each breed of over the 120 discussed in the book is given at least one page. As the owner of a Ragdoll, I immediately went to the index to see if my cat was looking and behaving as the breed dictated. It turns out that Ragdolls feature in three sections of the book – so have three pages dedicated to them: Patterned Cats, Lap Cats and Large Cats. As with all the breeds discussed in this book, the

breed is introduced (differently in each section to meet the needs of the chapter’s theme), followed by history, personality, colour variants, characteristics, grooming requirements, problems and ‘At a glance’. There is a labelled picture of, in this case, a Ragdoll – again, a different image on each of the pages – that gives more information. The labelling is very useful as it points to the areas of the cat being discussed, thereby avoiding confusion if you are not a cat expert (like me). As mentioned above, this is a book that can be read purely for fun or out of interest. You don’t need to be buying (or getting a cat), although this book would make it very tempting to get one. They are all – well, nearly all – so cute. David Alderton is a writer who specialises in pets and natural history. He certainly knows about cats! He’s written about pets and their care for newspapers and magazines, as well as speaking about them on radio and television. Reviewer: Jane Campbell


purr-fect products

CroC Shoe Pet Bed

CoCo & PUd: Leather Pet BowLS

Designed in Australia by Coco & Pud. Your pet will go ape over their new cozy haven, and you’ll love the fleece Coco & Pud Sock – simply pull out to machine wash. Made of cushiony non-toxic material that’s odour resistant and has a lifetime warranty! Just wipe clean! The unique ‘roll bar’ at the heel provides the perfect place for your pet to rest their furry head. Our unique material will help keep your family members cool in summer and warm in winter ... and you get a touch of dramatic style for your home! dimensions: 80 x 35 x 30cm. Colours: Fuchsia, black and light blue. Designed, manufactured and distributed exclusively by Coco & Pud.

Coco & Pud, founded in March 2011, is a wholesaler and online retailer of luxury pet supplies for dogs and cats. The concept came when founder and owner Sarah Matley purchased her new kitten, Pud, and had trouble finding luxury and designer cat products in Australia or online.

Looking for retail stockists.

www.cocoandpud.com.au

Sarah is now designing and manufacturing luxury pet supplies under her brand Coco & Pud. Designed in Australia and manufactured from the best quality materials, keep your eyes open for this up-and-coming, pet-tested brand. Pud comes to work daily to mark his ‘paw of approval’! The leather bowls we are designing and making come in various shapes including fish, cat-face, square and round. The round bowls can also be personalised with your fancy feline’s name, complete with rhinestone crystal slide letters. The bowls are hand stitched in the highest quality faux leather, and the letters are genuine Austrian crystal. The bowls are easy to clean, non-slip, anti-chewable and microwave and dishwasher safe. They are raised in design to promote better digestion. Colours: Black, brown, grey, pink, hepatic (liver), dark pink and red. Available in three sizes.

CUrVe dimensions: 20” x 14” x 4 ½” With a slim profile and a choice of wood and fabric options, Curve seamlessly blends in with your décor. It can be mounted anywhere on the wall. The curving shape and cushion provide your pet with comfort and security when sleeping and playing on it. • Choice of maple or walnut veneer. • White powder coated mounting brackets. • Easy installation – only 2 holes are required. • Use your own fabric for a truly custom piece. • Cushions are removable and washable. www.akemitanaka.com

feLiway® The modern world is particularly unnatural for our feline friends. Cats can feel stress due to reasons that often surprise their owners. Some obvious signs of stress include urine marking and scratching, however, more subtle signs may include; hiding, overgrooming, eating disorders and skin problems. Feliway® contains a synthetic analogue of feline facial pheromone. It replicates the feline facial pheromone that cats naturally use to mark their environment as familiar and safe. When used in the home it signals to cats that they are in a safe and familiar environment and provides comfort and a sense of well-being. Feliway® is available as a diffuser and 60 mL spray. www.feliway.com/au

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Breeders and services directory

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AABALI / MIWAHNI MAINE COON CATS

Excellent imported lines. Home raised with family. Big beautiful kittens. Breeding parents. All tested for genetic health. Selective overseas/interstate shipping. NORWEGIAN FOREST CATS

We specialise in Netting & Mesh Enclosures. Keep your cats safe from cat fights, dog attacks and cars.

Custom built enclosures a specialty.

Can be purchased as D.I.Y flatpacks. We also supply an assembly, installation and delivery service.

AUSSIE CAT ENCLOSURES

Visit us at: www.catenclosures.com.au Or call us for a free measure & quote

RAGDOLL CATS Joan Benson Phone: (07) 5486 7040 Mobile: 0412 950 718 Email: cats@miwahni.com www.miwahni.com

AustrALIAN MIst ArtuMBLoM CAttery Elegant shorthair cats, excellent temperament, indoor pets. Love human contact. Kittens born and raised in the family home. Suit all ages. Before leaving home all pet kittens are desexed, microchipped, receive 2 vaccinations and are wormed. Contact: Patricia Beech Phone: (02) 4579 6897 Mobile: 0402 066 797 Email: wagwhisk@pnc.com.au www.pnc.com.au/~wagwhisk/artumblom/

advertise here for only $88 Contact Georgina Chapman Ph: (07) 3334 8007 Email: georgina@vinkpub.com

(07) 3829 0563

Email: info@catenclosures.com.au

AustrALIAN NAtIoNAL CAts INC “Where every cat is a winner” MISSION STATEMENT To be a totally professional organisation responsive to the needs of all cats their owners, breeders and exhibitors. Benefits of membership with ANCATS • Australia’s ONLY national cat registry. • Member of the World Cat Federation. • Worldwide recognition. • Individual membership. • No restrictive measures imposed on members. • National Breed Standards. • National Prefix Register on line. • National Judges training program. • National junior handlers program. • National Phone Number 1300 PET CAT • Shows in most states and territories. • User friendly website: www.ancats.com.au • Automated title updates & Cat of the Year scores. • The “Cat Data” database uses world’s best practice, and can provide you with a wealth of information on your cats. • The program compiles all shows and then provides full results and multi award cards. It also converts the results to html and sends the results to our website. • A committee of management that considers the cat first. Phone: (02) 9544 1910 Fax: (02) 9527 3695 PO Box 2478 Taren Point B/C Taren Point NSW 2229 Email: wsca@bigpond.com www.ancats.com.au

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the ANIMAl WelfARe leAgue Of QlD. INC

BAJIMBI

Adopt a pet from AWL Queensland and help us embrace a brighter future for Queensland’s abandoned animals.

Breeding Quality Burmese, Siamese, Oriental, and Ragdolls. “Caring enough to share the very best.”

All animals are desexed, microchipped, health and temperament checked, vaccinated and wormed.

Bajimbi cats are Best in Show winners across Australia and internationally in the USA and Germany.

Rehoming Centres Shelter Road, Coombabah Qld 4216 Rossmanns Road, Stapylton Qld 4207 PO Box 3253, Helensvale Town Centre Qld 4214 Ph: (07) 5509 9000 Fax: (07) 5594 0131 Email: mail@awlqld.com.au www.awlqld.com.au

Phone: (02) 9523 3507 Fax: (02) 9527 3695 Email: bambi@bajimbi.com.au www.bajimbi.com.au

BRItz BRItISh ShORthAIR

CRISDON RAgDOllS

Crisdon Ragdolls are

At britZ we have selected cats for their type & temperament from fully imported Champion bloodlines from Europe, Canada, USA & New Zealand. We breed the beautiful solid Blue British, Lilac & the Black Silver “Classic” Tabby. britZ British Shorthair is situated in Albany, Western Australia. Our cats & kittens have the best of everything and are desexed before adoption. Enquiries welcome, phone Jeanette Philip 64 Pinaster Road, Willyung ALBANY WA 6330 Phone: (08) 9842 6461 Email: britzula@bigpond.com www.britzcats.com

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Classy Cats for Classy People The Ragdoll – The Cat You Must Have! winner of best litter at 2010 Sydney Royal Easter Show winner of best of breeD four times, winner of tHirD best MAle, two fiftH best MAle, four best in seCtion at Sydney Royal Easter Show 2011 Please contact Kerrieanne Forrest Phone: (02) 9620 1069 Mobile: 0404 194 724 Email: ragdollcats4uatcrisdon@live.com www.crisdonragdollkittens.com


Luxury Lifestyle FOR OUR FOUR LEGGED FRIENDS

Indoor/Outdoor Igloo

Established 1978. Reg. NSWCFA. Siamese – all colours and patterns especially red points. Orientals, all colours. Balinese – Siamese colours, especially red. Burmese – golden eyed. Proven show/pet winners. Kittens also to pet homes. Contact Diana Mulhall Narrandera – Riverina Area Mobile: 0428 298 088

Cat Face Shape and Coco Leather Food Bowls

Cat Socks

Gillenbah Cattery

“we are retail and wholesale and looking for retail stockists!”

Cat Collars

Visit our online pet boutique anytime at www.cocoandpud.com.au Please email any enquiries to info@cocoandpud.com.au or simply call 02 9417 0099

advertise here for only $88 Contact Georgina Chapman Ph: (07) 3334 8007 Email: georgina@vinkpub.com

MiaKOSChKa Siberian CatS

Australia’s foundation of importers of Siberian Cats. Imported from USA. The native cat of Russia, Siberians are a large, strong, healthy breed with wonderful temperaments. Their coat is known for its hypoallergenic quality. Pets are available in all colours and are sold at 12 weeks, registered, vaccinated, micro-chipped and desexed. Transportation can be arranged interstate and internationally. Email: marie@siberiancats.com.au www.siberiancats.com.au

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We do not discriminate, we provide a second chance for all ages, gender, breeds, colours and sizes as every abandoned pet deserves to find a loving home. All animals are desexed and vaccinated prior to adoption and delivery to Adelaide can be arranged. The Moorook Animal Shelter has a suitable companion for every household. Appointments are recommended to ensure personnel are on site to assist you. WE HAVE OVER 120 PETS LOOKING TO BE ADOPTED INTO A FUR-EVER HOME

Designed for Insect & Security Doors Easy to fit 6 colours available Magnetic closure UV stabilised plastic

Available from your local Pet Shop!

Australian designed & made PETWAY® ADAPTOR “L” BRACKET only required for Insect Screen Door installation. (Sold Separately)

Ph: (07) 5574 5444

Fax: (07) 5594 9177

AUSTRALIA WIDE

Phone/Fax: (08) 8583 9393 Email: info@moorookanimalshelter.com.au www.moorookanimalshelter.com.au

Email: sales@petway.com.au Website: www.petway.com.au

raglace ragdolls

The caT’s reTreaT

B10G91480

The Moorook Animal Shelter is a non profit / pro life organisation that has been established since 1999 and during this time the shelter has managed to home hundreds of cats/kittens/dogs/puppies.

Boarding Cattery The Cat’s Retreat is a cat’s only ultimate boarding experience your cat will want to repeat. We’re here to make a difference so let us do the caring while you enjoy your holiday. We are committed to providing an exceedingly fun filled and loving environment with stimulating and entertaining feline focused activities for all our guests. For Real Living Dolls The Unique and Ultimate Cat of the Times Logan City licensed breeder. CFCCQ Registered No. 22. Traditional colours and patterns. House reared kittens available at times. Pictured: Raglace “Desir” Double Grand Champion Enquiries welcome, phone Gail after 7.30pm Phone: (07) 3209 9804 Email: raglace18@optusnet.com.au www.raglaceragdolls.com

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Our knowledge, skills and professionalism provide first class care for your cat giving you the peace of mind you deserve when leaving your most precious family member with us. Our experience is your guarantee and our reputation is based on customer (that's feline) satisfaction. Enquiries and inspections welcome, phone (07) 3200 0649 62-70 Dundee Road, North Maclean QLD 4280 www.catsretreat.com.au


Fruits & Vegetables provide vital antioxidants High Quality Fibres help reduce the incidence of hairballs No by-products. No fillers. No added glutens. No artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.

Nutrience line of dry dog & cat food At Nutrience, we believe in honest nutrition for every stage of your pet’s life. That’s why we produce our dry food in small batches in our very own state-ofthe-art facility, with stringent quality controls and regular feeding trials. Plus, we only use the finest ingredients like chicken, egg, oat groats and flaxseed. So you get pet food of unparalleled quality with no by-products, no fillers, no added glutens and no compromise. For further information or to locate your nearest outlet call Toll Free 1800 663 664 or go to www.nutrience.com/australia Available at pet specialist stores only

Kittens & Cats Annual - Volume 11, 2012  

Kittens & Cats Annual - Volume 11, 2012